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During launch there are rescue teams standing by at two different sites in Europe and/or Africa. These sites are called TAL sites. At these Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) sites medical teams are preparing for the worst. About a week prior to launch you can pick up communication from these teams as they travel from the US to the TAL sites. The week before launch they do a lot of radio checks on UHF SatCom satellites. All the TAL traffic is FM modulated.

You can read more about these TAL sites here.

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Florida -- The crew of "King 2", HC-130 rescue aircraft from the New York Air National Guard's 106th Rescue Wing, gather for a group photograph on Monday, May 11, as they wait for the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. This mission marked the 100th time that Airmen from the Long Island wing provided rescue support to Space Shuttle launches. Joining the HC-130 crews from Gabreski Field Air National Guard Base at Westhampton Beach, New York, were pararescuemen from the California Air National Guard's 131st Rescue Squadron, based at Moffett Federal Airfield, located near Mountain View, California. If the shuttle crew had been forced to leave the spacecraft near the Kennedy Space Center these men would have been responsible for pulling the astronauts from the water.

Below are the recordings I have made since I started out in 2007.

Mission Patch Mission Number Information Recordings
STS-135 Date: July 8th to July 20th 2011. July 5th on 261.675 MHz (FM)
July 6th on 261.675 MHz (FM)
July 8th on 261.675 MHz (FM)
STS-134 Date: May 16th to June 1st 2011. April 25th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
April 26th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
April 27th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
May 16th on 261.675 MHz (FM)
STS-133 Date: Fabruary 24th to March 9th 2011. October 27th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
October 28th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
October 29th on 261.700 MHz (FM)
November 1st on 261.700 MHz (FM)
February 21st on 261.575 MHz (FM)
February 22nd on 261.575 MHz (FM)
February 22nd on 261.700 MHz (FM)
February 24th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
STS-132 Date: May 14th to May 26th 2010. May 11th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
May 12th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
May 14th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
STS-131 Date: April 5th to April 20th 2010. April 2nd on 261.575 MHz (FM)
April 3rd on 261.575 MHz (FM)
April 4th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
April 5th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
STS-130 Date: February 8th to February 21st 2010. February 3rd on 261.575 MHz (FM)
February 4th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
February 5th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
February 7th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
February 8th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
STS-129 Date: November 16th to November 27th 2009. November 12th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
November 13th on 261.575 MHz (FM) (1)
November 13th on 261.575 MHz (FM) (2)
November 14th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
November 14th on 261.575 MHz (FM) (2)
November 16th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
STS-128 Date: August 28th to September 11th 2009. August 21st on 261.700 MHz (FM)
August 23rd on 261.700 MHz (FM)
August 25th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
August 28th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
STS-127 Date: July 15th to July 31st 2009. June 8th on 261.700 MHz (FM)
June 11th (1) on 261.700 MHz (FM)
June 11th (2) on 261.700 MHz (FM)
June 11th (3) on 261.700 MHz (FM)
June 12th on 261.700 MHz (FM)
June 13th on 261.700 MHz (FM)
June 17th on 261.700 MHz (FM)
July 7th on 261.700 MHz (FM)
July 8th on 261.700 MHz (FM)
July 9th on 261.700 MHz (FM)
July 12th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
July 13th (1) on 261.575 MHz (FM)
July 13th (2) on 261.575 MHz (FM)
July 15th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
STS-125 Date: May 11th to May 24th 2009. May 8th on 261.700 MHz (FM)
May 9th on 261.700 MHz (FM)
May 10th on 261.700 MHz (FM)
May 11th on 261.700 MHz (FM)
STS-119 Date: March 15th to March 28th 2009. March 9th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
March 10th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
March 11th (1) on 261.875 MHz (FM)
March 11th (2) on 261.875 MHz (FM)
March 12th on 261.875 MHz (FM)
March 13th on 261.875 MHz (FM)
March 16th on 261.875 MHz (FM)
STS-126 Date: November 14th to November 30th 2008. November 12th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
November 13th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
November 14th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
STS-124 Date: May 31st to June 14th 2008. May 31st on 261.575 MHz (FM)
STS-123 Date: March 11th to March 27th 2008. March 11th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
STS-122 Date: February 7th to February 20th 2008. February 7th on 261.575 MHz (FM)
STS-118 Date: August 8th to August 21st 2007. August 8th on 261.575 MHz (FM)