Will Alcântara Finally Stop Being the Spaceport of the Future?

Cyclone 4 launch pad under construction. (Credit: Alcantara Space)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Brazil’s decades-long effort to launch satellites from its underused Alcântara Launch Center could finally be bearing fruit.

On Monday, Brazil and the United States signed a Technology Safeguards Agreement that will allow American companies to launch orbital rockets from Alcântara.
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Alcântara: The Spaceport of the Future?

Charles de Gaulle -- not one of Brazil's biggest fans.

“Brazil is the country of the future…and always will be.”

So wryly observed Charles de Gaulle decades ago, marveling at how South America’s largest country, blessed with enormous resources and an industrious population, was forever failing to live up to enormous potential.

Brazil seems to be on the verge of ending that cycle. Economic and political reforms of the past decade have put the nation firmly on the path to becoming a regional and global power. During the next five years, Brazil will shine on the global stage as it hosts two of the world’s greatest sporting events, the Summer Olympics and the soccer World Cup.

And yet amid the optimism, the nation’s future is clouded by a lack of trained workers, a critical shortage of investments in key areas, and an often disorganized government. Nowhere are these shortcomings more apparent than in the nation’s space program and, in particular, its efforts to turn its sleepy Alcântara Launch Center into a world-class spaceport.

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