Costa Rica nears approval of Space Agency

To infinity, and beyond, and Pura Vida.

Update (Feb. 18): This project has passed a second debate and is on its way to becoming law. Our original story follows:

The Costa Rican Space Agency may soon be a reality.

Lawmakers have approved the creation of the Costa Rican Space Agency in a first debate this week. The project must pass a second debate in the coming days before it becomes law.

If the bill passes, the Space Agency (AEC, by its Spanish initials) will:

  • Research and develop projects focused on solving humanity’s problems by improving scientific space knowledge and resource management, through a peaceful approach.

  • Promote space research for its potential as a means of economic development.

  • Develop space systems, including the technology and infrastructure necessary for Costa Rica’s self-sufficiency in this sector.

  • Launch collaborative relationships with international space agencies and private companies dedicated to the space industry.

While the AEC would legally be based in San José, its de facto headquarters would be at a new space center in Liberia, Guanacaste.

“Costa Rica is prepared to make a quantitative leap in space exploration, since we have already launched successful satellites such as Irazú and have Costa Rican experts who can grow this activity,” said lawmaker Aida Montiel, one of the project’s backers.

Despite its size, Costa Rica has an impressive space history. Among its accolades:

  • Tico astronaut Franklin Chang Díaz participated in seven Space Shuttle missions. He is a member of the NASA Astronaut Hall of Fame and founded the Ad Astra Rocket Company, which has facilities in Liberia.

  • In 2018, the Irazú — a satellite designed and built in Costa Rica — was launched into space to help the country monitor carbon emissions.

  • Last year, space startup LeoLabs announced plans to build a next-generation space radar in Costa Rica.

Not bad for a little country of 5 million people. And, if the Space Agency bill passes, there may be even more accomplishments on the (event) horizon.

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