Central America’s first space agency would act as a catalyst for the generation of scientific knowledge, diffusion of innovation and creation of markets
On March 27, 2021 Costa Rica became Central America’s first country to establish its own space agency. On that date then Costa Rican president Carlos Alvarado Quesada signed legislation creating the new agency (Law 9960), while at the same time requesting reforms to the legislation. Concerns about the establishment of the space agency were expressed about its budget and funding.
Overwhelming support for the creation of the space agency was expressed from the Costa Rican and international space communities in the form of public letters including from the Canadian Space Agency, European Space Agency, numerous space scientists and engineers working for NASA as well as Costa Rican university student space organizations.
The legislation to create the agency was promoted by former PLN member of congress Aida Montiel and university professors Adolfo Chaves and Johan Carvajal of the Costa Rica Institute of Technology’s Space Lab (SETEC) as well as by Eldon Caldwell of the University of Costa Rica (UCR).
When the legislation was approved by the Costa Rica Legislative Assembly Aida Montiel commented, “This initiative will allow Costa Rica to establish an entity specialized in executing policies on space matters, which will promote research, innovation and development in this area. I presented the bill for the creation of a Costa Rican space agency in order to create a legally empowered entity to develop Costa Rica’s space industry and the many opportunities it offers.”
The first formal meeting of the agency’s board of directors took place on August 5, 2021. Towards the end of 2021 the Costa Rican Ministry of Science and Technology (MICITT) created commissions (composed by volunteers with experience in Costa Rica’s aerospace sector) with the objective of establishing strategic direction for the agency.
Since the new Costa Rican government took power on May 8, 2022 the fate of the space agency has remained uncertain and as of the date of this publication the new Costa Rican government has not made any public statements about it.
The benefits of the Costa Rican Space Agency can be categorized as either direct or indirect. It will have the opportunity to become a valuable mechanism to allow Costa Rica to take its place in the growing multi-billion-dollar space industry and establish alliances with other space agencies and private space companies. These opportunities include internship opportunities for young Costa Ricans with NASA and other space agencies.
The operation of this Space Agency would act as a catalyst of the generation of scientific knowledge and the diffusion of innovation and creation of markets and the strengthening of cooperation between states.
Those in favor of the development of Costa Rica‘s aerospace sector and unleashing Costa Rica’s potential in this field await a public sign from the Costa Rican government that Costa Rica’s Space Agency will soon be given permission to function.