Brazil’s National Space Activities Program (PNAE) has strategic value for the country’s development, and it is important for it to be publicized, so that the population can understand how the life of ordinary citizens can be affected by its implantation, affirmed the Brazilian Minister of Science and Technology, Eduardo Campos.
According to Campos, oversight of the Amazon, weather prediction, and national security policy can be improved through the space program.
The PNAE operates in the area of training in space systems, backs up Brazil’s participation in the International Space Station, provides research incentives, and encourages the transfer of space technology to other productive sectors.
The program is planned to span a period of ten years, with periodic revisions. The current version covers the period 1998-2007 and is organized in seven sub-programs: Space Applications, Satellites and Functional Cargo, Launch Vehicles, Infrastructure, Research and Development, Human Resource Training, and Development of National Industrial Capacity.
The Minister pointed out that international technical cooperation agreements are being negotiated for the reconstruction of the launching tower in Alcântara, in Northeast Brazil, and for the launching of the fourth prototype of the VLS-1 missile in 2006.
“Brazil is once again investing in the program at one of the most favorable moments in the past 30 years. In 2005 we shall have one of the best years in terms of investments since the implantation of the program in Brazil,” he concluded.
Earlier this year, the Superior Council of the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) declared that without investments Brazil’s space program would not be able to continue. The Council wrote at the time, “…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 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 Alcantara launch center when a satellite launch vehicle (VLS) exploded killing more than 20 people.
Translation: David Silberstein