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Costa Rica to create Space Agency; bill passed by Congress

February 18, 2021

The Legislative Assembly on Thursday approved in a second debate the creation of the Costa Rican Space Agency.

Appropriately, the news came on the day NASA landed the Perseverance rover on Mars.

The Space Agency (AEC, by its Spanish initials) will establish a Space Center in Liberia, Guanacaste. There, scientists will conduct research and explore technological innovations in the field. The AEC will also promote collaborations between Costa Rica and other governments and private entities in space matters.

The AEC will be a “non-state public entity,” financed through donations and the surpluses of other public institutions. The Comptroller General has indicated the project lacks sufficient financial feasibility studies.

Before becoming law, the project needs to be approved by the Executive Branch and published in the official government newspaper, La Gaceta.

“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 presenters.

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

  • Costa Rican astronaut Franklin Chang Díaz participated in seven Space Shuttle missions. Now a member of the NASA Astronaut Hall of Fame, he has also founded the Ad Astra Rocket Company, which has facilities in Liberia. He has voiced his support for the AEC.
  • 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.

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