QCOSTARICA – The Costa Rica Space Radar is the most advanced commercial low-Earth orbit mapping and monitoring device in the world and was implemented by LeoLabs in record time in Guanacaste.
This new phased array radar reinforces LeoLabs’ leadership as a data and service provider to understand and protect business and government activities in low Earth orbit (LEO), which are increasing rapidly.
The Costa Rica Space Radar provides the ability to track objects, including active satellites and orbital debris up to two centimeters.
“With only nine months to go into work in Costa Rica, it is very gratifying to announce the fully operational status of the most advanced commercial space radar of its kind anywhere on the planet,” said Dan Ceperley, co-founder and CEO of LeoLabs.
“The Costa Rica Space Radar completes our coverage of low Earth orbit,” Ceperley told SpaceNews. “It’s the first radar in our network that tracks objects in low inclination orbits.”
LeoLabs gathers data from six phased-array radars at four sites. The Silicon Valley firm operates a UHF radar in Texas and makes observations with a National Science Foundation radar in Alaska.
In Costa Rica, like in New Zealand, LeoLabs operates two S-band radars on a single site to detect and track small space objects.
Having a second S-band radar site “is the key for us being able to track and maintain custody of objects smaller than 10 centimeters,” said Ed Lu, LeoLabs co-founder and vice president of strategic projects.
When LeoLabs began looking for an equatorial radar site, Lu contacted Franklin Chang-Diaz, another physicist and former NASA astronaut who is also a Costa Rican-American mechanical engineer.
Chang-Diaz agreed enthusiastically.
“I want to bring Costa Rica into the space age,” said Chang-Diaz, CEO of Ad Astra Rocket Co., a Texas-based firm with a subsidiary in Costa Rica. “Costa Rica has all the right ingredients. It’s a stable, educated society in a peaceful country.”
In addition, the LeoLabs project aligns well with “Costa Rica’s interest in environmental stewardship and projects that into space,” Chang-Diaz said. “The environment doesn’t end with our atmosphere. It’s going to extend far beyond that.”
LeoLabs provided all the funding for the Costa Rica Space Radar, which was constructed in less than a year with the support of the Costa Rican government.
With notes from Spacenews.com