Aerospace company failed to get the needed U.S. approval for Guyana launches

July 23, 1999

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) -- Guyana is located on the equator.  A U.S. aerospace company had Guyana at the top of its list for a satellite launching site, but it couldn't get the necessary permits from the U.S. State Department to build it!

Beal was looking at a remote area in western Guyana as a location for the site. The company would have launched four satellites a year starting in 2001.

Rockets lifting off from the equator can take full advantage of the Earth's spin, allowing them to carry heavier payloads than those taking off from other latitudes.

In 1997 reports surfaced indicating that Beal Aerospace Technologies had some time, early in that year, approached the Guyana government with a proposal that this North American company set up a rocket launch base in the Waini region of the north-west district of Guyana. This was followed by an invitation by government to Beal in 1999. 

The Texas firm Beal Aerospace Technologies Inc. proposed to launch commercial satellites from a point in the Waini over the sea and had expected the inaugural launch to be made by 2001. Beal applied to purchase a sizeable portion of state land, 10 acres of which is to be used for the launch site, 26,000 acres as its primary site and 75,000 acres for a buffer zone.  In the Waini project, Beal had proposed to set up infrastructure the cost of which was projected at US$50M. The project would have entailed carrying out basic civil works, which will include buildings, fuel storage, launch pad and 10,000 feet of runway. For the initial stages of the project Beal said that 500 jobs would have be made available; for the longer term, 200. 

News reports of November 10, 1999 reported that the 'deal' for the establishment of a spaceport was almost finalized. There was evidently a sense of urgency on the part of the Government and they expected to clinch the deal by December 31, 1999. The Government eventually confirmed the holding of negotiations. However these negotiations have been conducted in confidence and with little disclosure from either side on many aspects of the project and nothing at all on the terms and conditions which are likely to be agreed upon.

The spaceport project has met little opposition in Guyana, and there has been recognition that the investment has the potential of bringing short and long term financial and technological benefits to the economy, bearing in mind the growing importance and value of commercial and other satellites. Even though the proposed sale of land meant the potential for the loss of sovereignty over a large portion of the country's territory.  

Guyana is located on the equator.  Because Guyana is not among approved countries to which American companies can transfer satellite technology, Beal Aerospace Technologies needed to but failed to get the State Department's approval before it could have entered into a binding an agreement with the Guyanese government. 

The proposed sale of land, meant the potential loss of sovereignty over a large portion of the Guyana's territory to an American entity.  Perhaps the first steps towards the establishment of an American Guyana.

However as long a Guyana remain "independent" it is not likely for U.S. Department of State to issue the necessary permits!