San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

President-elect Looks to Boost Costa Rica Into Space

At the top of President-elect Laura Chinchilla’s agenda for her meeting with United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week was convincing her that Costa Rica should be a part of international space programs.

Costa Rica’s own Franklin Chang, a retired NASA physicist and astronaut, is developing new plasma engines for space travel at a plant in Liberia, in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, and Chinchilla wants to ensure that Chang’s inventions are incorporated into worldwide projects.

“We want recognition for Costa Rica, so the country can enter this special industry,” Chinchilla said, seeing in the space industry an opportunity to stimulate more high-paying jobs and international prestige for the Central American country. “We hope that Costa Rica will be the first Latin American country (to enter the space industry).”

Chinchilla said she will push the new members of the Legislative Assembly to quickly ratify the Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space, which is a requirement for Costa Rica to collaborate in space technology.

Chang’s Ad Astra Rocket Company in Liberia and six small businesses that comprise the Costa Rican Aerospace Alliance (CORAAL) are working toward making space travel less expensive and faster.

During her meeting with Clinton, Chinchilla also requested more help from the U.S. in curtailing drug trafficking and in reaching benchmarks in environmental sustainability.

Of Chinchilla’s election, Clinton told reporters “I am delighted that Costa Rica has elected a woman president – a highly-qualified woman at that … It won’t surprise you to hear that I think that two of the best words in any language are ‘madam president,’ so I am very excited for the choice that Costa Rica has made.”

– Chrissie Long

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