Fri | Apr 12, 2024

Bahamas moves into space tourism

Published:Wednesday | February 21, 2024 | 12:10 AM

NASSAU, Bahamas (CMC):

The Bahamas government Tuesday said it had successful negotiated and executed a Letter of Agreement (LOA) with Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) “marking a revolutionary leap for The Bahamas into the realm of space tourism”.

“The Bahamas is poised to embrace its newfound role in the global space industry, marking a pivotal moment in the nation’s history. We look forward to a future where The Bahamas stands proudly as a trailblazer in space tourism and technology in line with our Blueprint for change and our Innovate242 initiative,” said Tourism, Investments and Aviation Minister Chester Cooper.

In a statement, the Ministry of Tourism, Investments and Aviation (MOTIA) said that the LOA establishes a strategic collaboration that positions the country as a global destination for witnessing booster landings.

SpaceX, a pioneer in space exploration, is currently finalising mission designs where one of the company’s autonomous droneships will serve as a Falcon 9 landing location east of The Exumas, offering a spectacle that will be visible only in The Bahamas.

“This unique opportunity sets the stage for tourists to witness awe-inspiring space events from cruise ships, resorts, and various tourist hotspots, solidifying The Bahamas’ position as a key player in the emerging space tourism industry,” the MOTIA said.

It added that the exclusive visibility of rocket landings on an autonomous droneship from various Bahamian islands distinguishes this destination as the only one of its kind worldwide.

“The respective Bahamian landings covered in the LOA will not only support SpaceX’s Starlink mission, but also contribute to saving lives, enhancing first responders’ capabilities, and ensuring connectivity in times of disasters.”

Cooper said that the LOA with SpaceX “marks a new era for The Bahamas.

“We are honoured to work with SpaceX to enable their Falcon 9 rockets to safely land on an autonomous droneship within Bahamian waters, helping to continue their rocket reusability efforts,” said Cooper, who is also the deputy prime minister.

“Simultaneously, through Starlink’s high speed Internet from space, this agreement opens doors to unprecedented opportunities for our citizens, fostering long-term advantages for education, emergency response and innovation.

“The Bahamian government aims to utilise this partnership for economic growth, job creation and enhanced educational opportunities,” Cooper added.

MOTIA said that in tandem with the LOA, SpaceX has committed to supporting the creation of a space installation or exhibit showcasing recognisable hardware and a SpaceX spacesuit. It said this exhibit, the only one outside the United States, is expected to draw significant attention and attendance from both Bahamian citizens and international tourists.

MOTIA said that in addition to potential revenue growth, The Bahamas has secured Starlink Internet connectivity at multiple locations across the Family Islands. It said these terminals, specifically designated for schools lacking sufficient Internet capacity, will also bolster the capabilities and operations of first responders in the area.

“SpaceX’s commitment to educational outreach through STEM and space-focused presentations on a quarterly basis will leave a lasting impact on the growth of STEM education in The Bahamas, providing invaluable opportunities for students and teachers.”

Former NASA rocket scientist, and STEM board founder and chief executive officer, Aisha Bowe, is credited with playing a significant role in the new initiative.

“In 2024, she is set to become an astronaut, marking her as the first Bahamian in space. Her inspiring journey shared globally through interviews, presentations, and a documentary, aligns with The Bahamas’ vision for innovation and education.

“In collaboration with SpaceX over the past 15 months, Bowe’s expertise and STEM board’s contributions were integral in outlining procedures for space operations in Bahamian territory,” MOTIA added.