A Russian committee is in Brazil to test the nine scientific experiments that Brazilian Air Force lieutenant colonel Marcos Pontes will take with him when he becomes the country’s first astronaut in March aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket.
After examining the experiments, the Russians have suggested a series of modifications in order to ensure the safety of the mission.
The manager of the Russian Space Agency, Sergey Rybkin, praised the high level of the experiments, explaining that further testing would take place both in Brazil and in Russian before the launch.
Rybkin added that space cooperation between Russian and Brazil should get a big boost with the Pontes flight which has been baptized the "Centenary" in honor of the 1906 flight in Paris by Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos Dumont.
The Brazilian Space Agency (Agência Espacial Brasileira) (AEB) is in a race against time to complete its preparations for the flight of Air Force lieutenant colonel Marcos Pontes.
The reason for the rush is that it was only four months ago that arrangements were made for Pontes to go up with the Russians. Before that, he was training with NASA to travel aboard the space shuttle.
But shuttle accidents have pushed the date for his trip back to the point where he was in danger of not making it into space this year – the 100th anniversary of Santo Dumont’s pioneer flight.
According to Raimundo Mussi, at AEB who is the flight manager, Pontes will be in space for eight days during which time he will undertake seven experiments created by Brazilian scientists and school children.
The experiments created by school children will be used to stimulate interest in space among young Brazilians. Pontes has a strict baggage weight limit of 15 kilos.
The Brazilian space program has some experience with microgravity experiments in Brazilian rockets that have achieved suborbital flights of up to eight minutes.