The Brazilian space agency wants to open a commercial spaceport
– News of July 21, 2019 –
Space programs of rising powers such as China and India are regularly mentioned. Although there is a Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), Brazil does not yet have such a developed space program. But as the ninth world economy, Brazil could one day play with the big players. In the meantime, things are already happening in this part of the world. Brazil can naturally benefit enormously from its geographical position.
The Alcantara Space Center is the closest to the equator in the world, which is a big advantage when it comes to lauch a spacecraft to the geostationary orbit. The Brazilian government has understood this and wants to make it an alternative to Kourou. For this, Brazil is negotiating an agreement with the United States that could lead to the opening of a commercial spaceport. The Vector smallsats launcher, which should be up and running very soon, would like to move there.
Brazil does not have its own rockets yet. In 2003, a terrible accident ended the development of the VLS-1 launcher, which was to become the first Brazilian orbital launcher. The Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) now hopes to quickly fly its rocket VLM, a smallsats launcher. It is developed in collaboration with the German space agency (DLR) and could take off next year. If successful, this could lead to the development of a family of slightly heavier launchers capable of placing up to half a tonne in polar orbit.
So far, the Brazilian space agency has no ambition to compete with other space agencies to go to the Moon, not before the 2030s anyway. Interesting things could happen well before Alcantara’s spaceport succeeds its commercial opening. Such a perfect location could appeal to much larger companies than Vector, like Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Failing to make many rockets, the South American continent could see them take off in large numbers.
Image by Agência Espacial Brasileira (AEB) [Public domain]