This past week, two French students from the Parisian college ESTACA traveled to Costa Rica to participate in Project Polaris which allows them to intern at the airport with COOPESA while working on a rover prototype at TEC. Polaris, a very ambitious program, is here to challenge the boundaries of international aerospace collaboration and to make Costa Rica a host for the globalization of space.
PROJECT POLARIS is an international and nonprofit workforce of 97 college students and young professionals representing 16 different countries.
The two-year-long program, which simulates an international “mini-NASA”, has as technical objectivedesigning, building, and testing a prototype of the Star Rover: a rover concept that proposes using a balloon instead of wheels to explore Saturn’s moon Titan.
To accomplish this mission, they gathered a team of highly skilled mentors and partners, including Dassault Systems (France), Valispace (Germany), Ad Astra Rocket Company (US/CR), and a.i. Solutions (USA). They have the support of the Costa Rica Institute of Technology (ITCR), ESTACA (France) and Purdue University, where most of their students come from.
They also count with mentors from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) and have received guidance from professionals from SpaceX, ThrustMe (France), and the Swedish Space Agency. However, Project Polaris is more than just engineering and includes multiple features ranging from social work and tourism to internships. You can learn more about it in this video.
After more than 8 months of operation and research, Polaris is preparing itself to start prototyping the Star Rover at TECand to potentially host about 20 more international students in Costa Rica. To build this rover, however, these students need your support. By backing Project Polaris, you can help directly to contribute to the globalization of space and as bonus receive digital rewards. Check out their crowdfunding campaign here.
Bruce Callow is a Canadian teacher and co-author of the books To the Stars: Costa Rica in NASA and The Intrepids: Costa Rican Women in Science and Technology. He does space education outreach work on behalf of NASA.