ISU MSS 2024

LeoLabs to site next space radar in Costa Rica

LeoLabs Radar Close Up; Credits: LeoLabs

LeoLabs, a commercial provider of low Earth orbit (LEO) mapping and Space Situational Awareness (SSA) services, announced Costa Rica as the site for its next space radar. “We are delighted to be working with an incredible team in Costa Rica, and proud to bring the first commercial phased-array radar to the equatorial region,” said Mike Nicolls, LeoLabs Chief Technology Officer and co-founder. “This improves our coverage of equatorial and low inclination orbits, filling a critical gap for tracking satellites and space debris.” LeoLabs’ Costa Rica radar will be capable of tracking small debris down to 2cm and work in concert with LeoLabs’ other radars. This announcement also reflects the priorities of the Costa Rican government.

“We welcome LeoLabs to Costa Rica,” stated Costa Rican President, Carlos Alvarado Quesada. “The vision of a LeoLabs space radar in Costa Rica takes our national tradition of environmental responsibility and extends it to space, offering our nation a way to contribute to preserving the LEO ecosystem for generations to come. In addition, this investment builds on an existing set of space achievements by Costa Rica, in human space flight as well as in satellites, and opens up opportunities for our nation in the growing new space sector,” continued President Alvarado.

The story of LeoLabs’ decision to locate its next radar in Costa Rica is also the result of a longstanding relationship between two former NASA astronauts, LeoLabs executive and co-founder, Dr. Edward Lu, and Ad Astra CEO and co-founder, Dr. Franklin Chang Díaz, both of whom went on to found innovative technology businesses. In the Spring of 2019, Dr. Lu reached out to his longtime colleague, Dr. Chang Diaz, to discuss the advantages of building a radar in Costa Rica.

“From our mutual experience in space, Dr. Lu and I were both excited about the opportunity to address the threat to human spaceflight posed by space debris,” said Dr. Chang Diaz. “The project in Costa Rica offered us the chance to increase safety of flight in space and enable responsible stewardship to drive our mission of preserving critical ecosystems.”

“We are very appreciative of the partnership with Ad Astra in making this happen,” said Dr. Lu. “One of the priorities for LeoLabs is to locate its next radar in an environment where there is a national and strategic commitment to the space industry. We were especially encouraged by the knowledge and support from the government of Costa Rica through its Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Energy and Environment.”

“Today’s announcement is a significant step for LeoLabs, as this initiative in Costa Rica will integrate into a growing network of radars and nations around the globe committed to space sustainability” said Dan Ceperley, CEO and co-founder of LeoLabs. “We are grateful for the opportunity and look forward to implementing this vision.”

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