(22 April 2021 – LeoLabs) LeoLabs today confirmed “fully operational” status for its Costa Rica Space Radar, effective immediately.
This new phased-array radar reinforces LeoLabs’ leadership as the premier data and services provider to inform and protect the rapidly expanding commercial and governmental activities in LEO.
LeoLabs Costa Rica (courtesy: LeoLabs)
“Only nine months after breaking ground in Costa Rica, it is gratifying to announce full operational status for the most advanced commercial space radar of its kind anywhere on the planet”, said Dan Ceperley, LeoLabs co-founder and CEO. “The Costa Rica Space Radar is a critical addition to the global constellation of radars LeoLabs is building, and clearly demonstrates not just our rapid deployment capabilities, but the dramatic increase in data underpinning our LeoLabs services platform.”
Costa Rica Space Radar: Unique Contribution to New Space
With its newest radar site, LeoLabs introduces a unique asset that provides equatorial coverage for low inclination orbits, giving the company full coverage of LEO. In addition, the Costa Rica Space Radar provides unprecedented capability to track objects, including active satellites and orbital debris down to 2cm. These objects represent the vast majority of the risk in LEO. It is these risks that are critical considerations for all of LeoLabs’ customer base, which includes satellite operators, defense, space and regulatory agencies, insurance, and the scientific community.
“The implications of the Costa Rica Space Radar are two-fold,” explained Edward Lu, former NASA astronaut and LeoLabs co-founder. “First, it provides an increased level of data to inform and improve the operational services we offer to emerging satellite constellations entering LEO. Every service we provide, such as collision avoidance or early launch tracking, benefits from the additional data flowing off the Costa Rica Space Radar. This is foundational. Second,” Lu continued, “in combination with our other radars, the Costa Rica Space Radar expands our ability to provide a real time map of more objects in LEO, to characterize the risks, and feed that insight to our customers. This is a major contribution to space sustainability and safety of flight.”
Investment and Partnership in Costa Rica
“LeoLabs is pleased to make this strategic investment in Costa Rica,” remarked Dan Ceperley. “We view this as a long-term partnership for LeoLabs, and we are grateful for the support provided by Costa Rica, and our shared commitment to participating in the new space economy.”
To mark the occasion today, LeoLabs hosted an inaugural ceremony at the Costa Rica Space Radar site, attended by numerous government officials, including Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada. “LeoLabs investment in its Costa Rica Space Radar is a true example of the range of opportunities we have as a country in attracting state-of-the-art technology companies that promote a greater environment for innovation,” said President Alvarado. He continued, “this project extends responsible management of caring for the environment to space, an inherent value in a country like ours.”
For her part, the Minister of Science, Technology and Telecommunications, Paola Vega Castillo, expressed that “the arrival of LeoLabs to the country is a relevant milestone that reminds us of the importance of maintaining efforts to promote the development of our population for the opportunities of the knowledge era, and to support the consolidation and opening of new businesses based on technology with vision of future.”
In addition to LeoLabs’ Edward Lu, the event was also attended by former NASA astronaut Franklin Chang Díaz, CEO of Ad Astra Rocket Company, a LeoLabs partner in Costa Rica. “It’s very exciting for the Costa Rican space community to witness this important step,” said Chang- Diaz. It is exactly the kind of project that will enable new science, empower students, and improve the safety of future human spaceflight. We are very happy to be working with LeoLabs on the execution of this groundbreaking facility.”
Founded in 2016 as a venture-funded spinout of Silicon Valley research pioneer, SRI International, LeoLabs provides access to critical mapping and SSA data for low Earth orbit. LeoLabs’ services include collision prevention, risk assessment, constellation monitoring, and commercial SSA. LeoLabs today serves space agencies, commercial satellite operators, defense, and scientific/academic organizations that are driving generational change in LEO. LeoLabs’ core technology includes a patent-pending global phased-array radar network which tracks debris and satellites in LEO. Observations generated from this network are the foundation of the LeoLabs mapping and SSA software platform, providing timely and accurate orbital and situational data.