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Brazzil - Space - July 2004

Brazil Back in Space

Ukrania, China, the US, and Russia will participate in the new
phase of Brazil's Alcântara Satellite Launching Center. The
initial launch is scheduled for 2006, with a Satellite Launching
Vehicle, capable of carrying a lighter load. A heavier satellite,
which would be placed in a higher orbit, should occur around 2008.

Eduardo Mamcasz


Picture The President of the AEB (Agência Espacial Brasileira—Brazilian Space Agency) Sérgio Gaudenzi, spoke about new developments in Brazil's Space Program, for which the government will disburse US$ 11.7 million (36 million reais).

Gaudenzi's news included the planned launch of a satellite launcher from the base in Alcântara, in the Northeast region, in 2006, and the missile-launching project in collaboration with Ukrania.

"The Aeronautics center is already taking care of the missile itself, and in 2006, as is scheduled, we shall send our launch vehicle into space," declared the President of the AEB.

Gaudenzi also referred to the interest that the Alcântara base has awakened in various countries with space programs, such as Ukrania, Russia, and the US.

"We enjoy a privileged situation for launches. The Alcântara Base is unequalled in the world; it is located almost right on the line of the Equator and has a 12-month window (the possibility of launches all year-round). So, the Alcântara Base really represents a privilege bestowed on us by nature, and we have to take advantage of it," Gaudenzi affirms.

According to Gaudenzi, Ukrania, China, the United States, and Russia will participate in the new phase of the Alcântara Satellite Launching Center, in the state of Maranhão.

The initial launch in this new phase is scheduled for 2006, with a SLV (Satellite Launching Vehicle), capable of carrying "a lighter load." The launching of a satellite that is "heavier and placed in a higher orbit," according to Gaudenzi, should occur "around 2008."

Brazil and Ukrania have already signed an agreement that awaits Congressional approval in the two countries. The agreement is for the Cyclone-IV satellite, which will require Ukrania to construct a special base.

"Each launcher needs a different platform," the new President of the AEB explained. He said that he believes the agreement will be ratified in August and will permit the creation of a binational company.

Gaudenzi assured that "there are very good signs that we shall also be able to reach the same kind of agreement" with the United States. And he pointed out that the Brazilian space industry is already involved in supplying "some components" and its logotype appears on Nasa's satellite launching platforms.

Another country interested in taking part in launches at Alcântara is Russia, with which there exists a "great and concrete possibility of a space agreement."

The President of the AEB explained that "the area in Alcântara is large and can contain various sites, which is why we can obtain cooperation from various countries."

Regarding China, a country with which Brazil has already launched two satellites in the Cbers series, Gaudenzi informed that the third will be launched "in 2007 or 2008" but that the Cbers-IV will depart from the Alcântara Launching Base. In September, he said, there will be a meeting in Beijing to work out the final details.

Space Program Threatened

In April, the Superior Council of the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) had released a statement declaring that without investments Brazil's space program would not be able to continue. The note added, "...if the program cannot obtain a minimum of results for Brazil, it is better to close it down."

The council examined measures to restart the program, saying that they were expecting to receive 106 million reais (US$ 30 million) earmarked for the satellite launch vehicle program and outstanding commitments with Ukraine.

"That amount is realistic in light of the situation in Brazil, although it is a very modest amount compared to what other countries are spending," declared the president of the AEB, Luiz Bevilacqua.

Meanwhile, Nelson Cabral, who represents the Ministry of Communications on the AEB council, suggested finding other sources for financing, such as telecommunications funds (the Fistel or Funtel, for example).

The AEB council decided to create work groups with participants from the industrial sector, the academic community and specialists to accompany its launch vehicle, satellite and infrastructure programs.

According to Walter Bartels, the director of the Aerospace Industry Association (Aiab), Brazil has the skilled manpower necessary for its space program. But he suggested the AEB leave manufacturing to the industrial sector and concentrate on research.

The AEB Superior Council also studied the report on the August 2003 accident at the Alcântara launch center when a satellite launch vehicle (VLS) exploded killing more than 20 people.

Right after that accident, Minister of Science and Technology, Roberto Amaral, said the tragedy would not affect Brazil's plans to move ahead with its space program which includes launches and the manufacture of satellites.

"It was an accident. We will make corrections and advance with our space program which, in accordance with a decision by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, will include the launch of a VLS-4 during his term of office," said Amaral.

Eduardo Mamcasz works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at lia@radiobras.gov.br.
Translated from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.

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