Brazil’s Cyclone-4 Project Hits Another Snag as Workers Laid Off

Ukraine's Cyclone rocket
Ukraine’s Cyclone rocket

Brazil’s decade-long quest to bring Ukraine’s Cyclone-4 rocket to the Alcantara Launch Center is reported to have hit another snag, this time due to financial problems at the Alcantara Cyclone Space (ACS) company. The Jorno do Brasil reports (via Google Translate):

According to sources close to the Alcantara Space Base, where the program is developed in the country, about two thousand [workers] contracted by ACS were discharged in the last two months. The scenery in this place is abandoned, as shown in photos uploaded to the Official Brazil. Most equipment has been rented and returned those remaining on the base are abandoned in the open air without any maintenance, according to the same sources….

Complaints received by the Journal of Brazil also relate to the subject of the work stoppage. According to the sources, to dismiss officials, heads of departments claimed that “it [layoffs] is happening because the company [ACS] has not paid the contractors.”

Marco Antonio Raupp, who is Brazil’s minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, acknowledged problems with payments but denied that work on the launch complex has completely ground to a halt.

“The works were not paralyzed. Intensity decreased only because the rainfall in the region. ACS [funds are] owed to contractors, but as these companies are large, the works are not stalled because they failed to pay a month,” said Raupp , adding that 40% of the construction site of the Cyclone 4 are completed.

Meanwhile, the Brazilian and Ukrainian government had nearly doubled their financial commitment to the jointly owned ACS, even as officials work through technological transfer obstacles that will limit the company’s ability to enter the lucrative commercial satellite launch market:

Now the capital of binational ACS will increase from $ 498 million to $ 920 million….Raupp said the capital increase was because development resources Cyclone 4 rocket and launch base construction of the vehicle at the CLA were insufficient. He said the new investment will be divided equally between Brazil and Ukraine. Raupp estimates that with the injection of funds the work may be resumed….

The research done recently by ACS are optimistic by obstacles occurred involving space technology in Brazil. The estimate for launching satellites by 2020 reaches 1,145, 244 of them being of a commercial nature. The binational plans to launch three to four satellites per year. However, the operation of commercial satellite launches in CLA will depend on the relaxation of an agreement with the United States, considering that 80% of satellites launched by countries and for this purpose are of American origin.

“The Foreign Ministry is resuming negotiations with the U.S. regarding the definition of a new technological safeguards agreement deal past is being revisited in other conditions,” said the Minister Marco Antonio Raupp, referring to technological safeguards agreement barred by Congress in 2002.

The joint program, which uses an upgraded version of the Soviet-era Cyclone-3 rocket, was begun a decade ago and has suffered numerous delays. The date for the maiden flight from Brazil’s equatorial launch base has become a moving target; the latest estimate is sometime in 2014.

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