The contract that will permit Brazilian Air Force lieutenant-coronel Marcos Pontes to travel to the International Space Station aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft will be signed today in Moscow, in the presence of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The agreement will be signed by the presidents of the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), Sérgio Gaudenzi, and the Russian Space Agency (Roskosmos), Anatoli Perminov.
During the mission Pontes will perform scientific experiments under conditions of microgravity. He will take 15 kilograms of material with him for these experiments and will return with only 6.
According to Gaudenzi, the contract with Roskosmos will fulfill a dream that began at least seven years ago. In August, 1998, the lieutenant-coronel started his training at NASA, the US space agency.
After his preparation was completed, the possibility of his first flight was delayed by NASA’s decision to suspend all missions in space, following the accident with the Columbia space shuttle on February 1, 2003.
"Pontes has a time limit for his flight, because permanent training is necessary, and he can’t remain in training forever. We have to make use of this moment, because he is ready for the flight now," Gaudenzi explained.
Gaudenzi affirmed that Pontes’ mission next year will have special significance, because it will be the centennial of the first flight of the 14 Bis, the aircraft built by the Brazilian aviation pioneer, Alberto Santos-Dumont.