SARSAT/COSPAS is an international program for the rapid location and rescue of air, water, and land vehicles in distress. The name combines an English acronym for Search and Rescue Satellite and an acronym for Russian words meaning Space System for Search of Vehicles in Distress. The program was first agreed upon in 1980 by the United States, Canada, France, and the Soviet Union. Several U.S. and Russian satellites have since been launched as part of the project, and in 1988 the program was extended for several years. Many vehiclesÑfor example, all U.S. fishing vesselsÑare required to carry a SARSAT transmitter. Automatically activated in an emergency, it broadcasts an internationally recognized distress signal, via satellite, to any of several ground stations around the world.