Moonshots: Innovation to Transform the Caribbean

A report by Giovanna Garofalo for The Weekly Journal.

Culturally, Puerto Ricans have traditionally perceived themselves as a small people due to the relatively small geographical scale of the archipelago compared to the U.S. mainland, or with neighboring Caribbean and/or Hispanic countries.

José Morey, known as the Intergalactic Doctor, seeks to change that mentality and encourage both Puerto Rico and the entire Caribbean region to lead the world in STEM industries by organizing themselves in a tech-oriented coalition, in what Morey describes as moonshots.

“Moonshots, essentially, are large-scale ideas that are bigger than any one person, any one company, any one country. So, thinking about things that are bigger than oneself that can elevate an entire people or an entire generation to accomplish something that they, individually, would not be able to accomplish. It’s kind of that concept that John F. Kennedy spoke about when he talked about going to the moon, saying that we don’t go to the moon because it is easy; we are going to the moon because it is hard, and these are the kinds of things that we need to be doing. We need to be focusing on big things,” the NASA advisor told THE WEEKLY JOURNAL.

Morey observed how the United States, Middle Eastern countries and the European Union generally act together, with some combining forces and resources to accomplish large-scale goals and projects to transform their respective economies. This is what he envisions for the Caribbean region, for these nations to focus on aspirations that transcend the challenges of one island.

“You can really combine things at a global level, and you can really be a global and regional influence for wherever you are,” he said.

One “moonshot” proposal he discussed was interconnecting the islands physically through “smart highways” or hyperloops. This, he argued, would provide more means for tourism and commerce, and allow faster natural disaster relief, “so you don’t have a situation like with Hurricane Maria where you can only bring things in by boat or plane and then you’re stuck.” In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017, access to Puerto Rico’s ports was limited, but Morey argues that if the island had had other means of entry, aid distribution could have flowed faster.

Moreover, he envisions hyperloops connecting the Caribbean islands with North and South America to further accelerate economic development in the region. For example, he mentioned that the Bahamas or Cuba could be connected directly to the U.S. mainland with Miami or Key West in Florida; and the countries on the southern tip of the Caribbean could connect to South America via countries like Venezuela or Guyana.

“That would completely revolutionize the whole region of the Caribbean to really act as a single region, and this is something that they can focus on together,” Morey said.

Another major advancement Morey would like to see Caribbean countries doing together is developing spaceports for launching and receiving rockets.

“People are talking that the space economy will be what the internet was, but multiply that by a thousand, the way that it’s going to transform countries and regions that are leaders in the space economy; they will be the ones that will lead the world into the future,” he assured.

Eyes on Spaceport Development

Morey explained that Puerto Rico and other Caribbean nations are at a natural advantage over other countries to position themselves at the forefront of spaceport developments because the spin of the Earth is “much faster” at the Equator. Therefore, launching rockets from the Caribbean would require less fuel and would be more cost-effective than doing so in countries that are farther from the Equator.

“If you have spaceports on the islands of the Caribbean, we will be the future of space launches, we will be the future economy of space,” he said.

Morey added that spaceports could also be used to enhance the tourism economy in the Caribbean.

“You can travel from somewhere like Beijing to Puerto Rico in a matter of an hour or 30 minutes because you fly up, you use the spin of the Earth, and then you come down. It will completely revolutionize tourism… Anyone from anywhere in the world will be able to reach the Caribbean literally within 30 or 60 minutes, tops. It completely changes tourism and it completely changes international business,” he affirmed.

Morey discussed his proposals at a virtual event organized by the Intra-American Development Bank, which focuses on large-scale investments. The seminar focused on ideas to solve problems that are specifically affecting the Caribbean through innovation.

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