Brazil may have its first astronaut in space in 2006. It is expected that by then Brazilian Air Force lieutenant colonel Marcos Pontes, who has been in training in the US since 1998, will be sent to the International Space Station (ISS).
According to the president of the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), Sergio Gaudenci, it is possible that Pontes will travel to the ISS on a Russian spacecraft.
Meanwhile, Pontes says he is excited about the possibility of going into space in 2006 because it will coincide with the launch of a Brazilian rocket, as well as the centenary of the flight of Santos Dumont (the first public flight of a powered heavier-than-air aircraft).
Brazil’s only astronaut, Marcos César Pontes, who has been in training at NASA since 1998, met president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on September of last year and told him that he is just waiting for his chance to go into space.
Brazil’s first probe missile prototype, the VBS-30, was launched October 23 at the Alcântara Launch Center, in Maranhão, northeastern Brazil.
The launch is part of the Cajuana Operation and was considered a success by the teams from the Aeronautics Institute of the Aerospace Technical Center (CTA/IAE) and the German Space Center, which are responsible for the program.
According to the press office of the Aeronautics Research Department, the missile remained for seven minutes in a microgravity environment.
The first VBS-30 operational flights are scheduled for November, 2005, and May, 2006. Both will lift European experiments to an altitude of 250 kilometers.
The VBS-30 contains various innovations in relation to other probe missiles previously produced in Brazil.
It has a booster engine to accelerate takeoff. The prototype also possesses a system of bearings and fins (rollerons) to ensure greater precision in flight.
Moreover, the VBS-30 carries equipment that makes it possible to accompany the missile’s trajectory by radar, telemetry, or GPS and gauge temperature and rotation.