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NASA Search and Rescue Mission Manager
Image of Dave Affens
Dave Affens
NASA Search and Rescue Mission Manager
Goddard Space Flight Center

Mr. Affens is the Search and Rescue Mission Manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. This organization is responsible for applying aerospace technology to the needs of the search and rescue community.

The Cospas-Sarsat* is an international, humanitarian satellite-based search and rescue system that has helped save over 18,000 lives worldwide since its inception in 1982. The Cospas-Sarsat system uses two different satellites: the polar-orbiting satellites in low-Earth obit, the NOAA polar satellites and satellites in geosynchronous orbits, the NOAA Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES).

Mr. Affens began working in NASA's Search and Rescue Mission Office in 1990. Prior to coming to NASA, he worked with the U.S. Navy for 21 years in various aspects of submarine warfare. He began work as a Weapons System Engineer at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory in White Oak, Maryland. He later worked as a Systems Design Engineer on non-acoustic anti-submarine projects and as a Systems Analyst for the TRIDENT missile program at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. He has made contributions to a variety of technical areas, including innovative designs for computer system hardware and advanced sensor systems. He holds a degree in electronic engineering specializing in computer systems and is a member of the IEEE. Mr. Affens is presently the NASA representative to the National Search and Rescue Committee (NSARC) and chairman of both the International Tri-Lateral Search and Rescue R&D and NSARC R&D Working Groups.

Mr. Affens initiated and is leading the U.S. effort to develop a state-of-the-art advancement to global satellite-aided search and rescue to be carried on the next generation of GPS satellites. This new system is called the Distress Alerting Satellite System (DASS). DASS is being developed by a partnership between NASA, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Homeland Security.

*Cospas is an acronym for the Russian words "Cosmicheskaya Sistyema Poiska Avariynich Sudov," which mean "Space System for the Search of Vessels in Distress." Sarsat is an acronym for Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking.