Brazilian Space Agency Issues First Operator Licenses for Space Activities

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) has issued its first operator licenses for space launch activities to a domestic software developer and an American engineering services company.

AEB awarded the licenses to Essado de Moraise Ltda. of Franca, Brazil, and Orion Applied Science & Technology LLC (https://orionast.com/) of Manassas, Va., the space agency said in a press release.

Essado de Moraise is the developer of custom software that has experience in telecommunications. Orion is an engineering company with expertise in satellites and other areas.

AEB established a new process earlier this year to license companies capable of carrying out space launch activities from Brazil’s little-used Alcantara Launch Center.

“Space launch activities are the set of actions associated with launching satellites and other types of payloads, orbital and suborbital, or in any other position in outer space, through launch vehicles, as well as the return phase,” AEB said. “They also include activities to prepare and conduct the operation by the launch center, complying with the safety rules established by the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB).”

The license does not authorize a company to conduct a launch from Alcantara. That approve will be handled under a different procedure.

To qualify for an operator license, an applicant needs to demonstrate that it has already carried out space-related projects and that it has the staff and capabilities to carry out the activities it proposes.

“The objective is to verify the existence of technical knowledge in companies already established and in companies that want to enter the space sector,” AEB said.

Foreign companies can qualify for licenses if they have an office or legal representation in Brazil and they are in compliance with tax and labor laws.

Alcantara is located within 2 degrees of the equator, which is ideal for launching geosynchronous communications satellites. The space center is also capable of launching spacecraft into polar orbits.

However, the space center is primarily used for suborbital sounding rocket launches. Brazil’s efforts to develop Alcantara for orbital flights have floundered. The VLS-1 small satellite launcher program ended in 2016 after 22 years of effort that included a launch pad explosion that killed 21 workers in 2003.

A joint Brazilian-Ukrainian project to launch the Cyclone-4 rocket from Alcantara also ended in 2015 after nine years or work with partially completed facilities and zero launches.