In four years Brazil will be able to launch its own rocket to put a satellite in orbit, said the G1 the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB). The thruster will be revamped from VLS (Satellite Launch Vehicle), the same family of rocket that exploded in AlcÃ¢ntara (MA) in 2003, killing 21 people.
“From 2003 up to now there has been a major revision of the design of the VLS,” says the director of space policy and strategic investments of AEB, Himilcon Carvalho.
The first test of the VLS-1 rocket as it is called, is scheduled for 2012, informs Carvalho. At that stage will be triggered only the first two stages of the propellant, which are at the bottom. In 2013 are expected to fly with full load, but still experimental. “In 2014 we will be able to put a satellite into orbit,” he says.
The schedule is delayed. National Program of Space Activities, formulated in 2005, the official launch of the VLS-1 was planned for 2007. “Often we are faced with technical difficulties,” says Carvalho. One of them, he said, is the difficulty of buying electronic components from overseas, as these parts can also be used for military purposes, and its market is restricted.
While the VLS is not ready, Brazil contracted services abroad to launch their satellites. Today there are three Brazilian equipment into orbit. Two of them – the SCD 1 and 2 – capture information about environmental data (level of rivers, amount of rainfall) from hundreds of stations throughout Brazil.
A more advanced satellite, called CBERS-2B, takes pictures of the planet and helps Brazil to monitor Amazon deforestation. The equipment, manufactured in partnership with China is already the third in a family of five members – two more to be launched by 2014.
In the queue are also developing other satellites in Brazil: the Amazon-1, which will have a camera with a wider viewing angle than the Cbers, and Lattes, who will analyze harmful particles coming from space and hit the ground, and discover sources x-ray at the center of the Milky Way.
“With the Amazon-1 and CBERS able to photograph the world in three days,” the coordinator of Technology Management at the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), Marco Antonio Chamon.
None of the satellites provided, however, can be loaded by the VLS version of which will be ready in 2014. They are too heavy for the capacity of the rocket, which will probably make its flight debut with a smaller equipment such as satellite Itasat university, which is being planned at the Instituto Tecnologico de Aeronautica (ITA).
With feet on the ground
Unlike the U.S. and Russia, Brazil has no great pretensions of space exploration, such as the manufacturing of spacecraft or building machines to explore other planets, reports Chapman.
“The ultimate goal of space policy [Brazilian] is mastering space technology to solve major national problems and for the benefit of Brazilian society,” he explains. “When we look at global warming, pollution, deforestation, we see that there are a number of important issues that have direct impact on Brazilian society.”
So all the satellites in orbit or planned to look into the land, not the stars. The only exception would be Lattes, examining X-rays from space. Likewise, Brazil does not plan to have astronauts. According to Carvalho, the national scientific experiments that need to be made in space will be sent through missions in other countries.