Tug of war by Brazil’s space station


Brazil has the best located spaceport in the world. The use by the United States to bring the South American country gains, says the government. Critics warn of subservience to North America.

The Brazilian Congress should vote this month on an agreement that the United States, the use of the rocket launch square, Alcântara in the Northern state allowed Maranhão. The draft Agreement was signed by US President Donald Trump and the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro-in March, as Bolsonaro on a state visit to Washington.

The 1983-built Alcântara base of the world’s best description the space station is, since he is only two degrees of latitude South of the Equator. One of there launch rocket saves compared to the U.S. launch site at Cape Canaveral in Florida, 30 percent of the fuel, to bring a cargo into orbit.

Due to the lack of development of a space industry in Brazil, the use of Alcântara, in the last decades of cooperation with the Fort was more step in the space programs of other Nations. Brazil 2000, signed, therefore, the first technological protection agreement with the United States.

Confidentiality of American technology

This agreement provided for the secrecy of the US missile technology and their cargo to prevent that Brazil can acquire the technical edge. For this reason, Brazilians should be banned, a U.S. rocket launches on the premises. For launches from the Alcântara from the United States should pay fees to Brazil.

President Bolsonaro and Trump in Washington (in March): confidentiality and prohibitions

Since Congress must approve such agreements, prevented a strong resistance to the parliamentarian at that time, the state of the international partnership. Many members requested, in particular, guarantees that no U.S. weapons systems should be fired from Alcântara to All. This would, however, have provided detailed information about the planned US-freight. In addition, the planned lockout of Brazilians at the start of the United States caused fears that as a result, the space station, an extraterritorial terrain could, and so Brazil’s sovereignty would be violated.

Brazil’s government has tried to market again in 2013, the spaceport near the Equator. This time, Ukraine seemed to be the ideal Partner for a cooperation in Alcântara. But in the midst of the Crimea crisis, and after spending the equivalent of almost a quarter of a million euros, the attempt to start a Ukrainian Cyclone-4 rocket in Brazil was abandoned, due to the high cost.

In 2017, Brazil’s former defense Minister Raul Jungmann started a new attempt to negotiate an agreement – this time with the United States. That’s the Basis for the agreement between Trump and Bolsonaro from the March originated. Now the decision is back with the members of the Congress.

New Conditions

The new agreement, the Congress must be located in Brasília, again, has been changed in some of the disputed passages. For example, it is not prohibited in Brazil longer to invest the fees collected in a private space program. However, the money may not be used to continue the development of rockets.

In addition, Alcântara in the new agreement is defined as a Brazilian air force base – in order to alleviate the Fears of an end to the sovereignty. Nevertheless, it should continue to give the time points at which only U.S. personnel to the space station have access.

“We speak of a better agreement, the progress of our aerospace industry and on a new basis of trust between the USA and Brazil, suggesting,” says Alessandro Candeas, Diplomat and head of the defense departments in the Ministry of foreign Affairs.

This assessment of a rapprochement with the United States Juliano Cortinhas not to be true. He is a Professor of International relations at the University of Brasília and was from 2012 to 2013, the defence adviser to the government. “The United States require the use of Brazilian sovereign territory in exchange for money.” That would bring Brazil no big advantages, says Cortinhas. “Advantageously, the acquisition of technological and strategic Knowledge would be. If you don’t want to share, then you should not be allowed to use our territory.”

Plans for a technology Park

The Diplomat Candeas stresses that the global space industry generates annually about 300 billion dollars, five billion of them by rocket launches. The Brazilian participation in this market in the medium could promote the space industry in Alcântara.

“In the long run to Alcântara around a technology Park is to be created. The commercial development of the site investment in infrastructure, tourism and education are attracted, what will trigger the development of the Region,” Candeas.

Launch site near the Equator: No entry for Brazilians?

Carlos Moura, President of the Brazilian space Agency (AEB), the Ministry of science, considers the agreement only for the first step on the way to the further commercial partnerships and initiatives to develop the Brazilian space industry. The Text would provide no exclusivity, cooperation with the United States, Moura.

He also stressed that the agreement is necessary to the space station to maintain: “in order for a base to work you need a functioning technological systems, data processing, remote sensing, radars, meteorological systems, and systems for aviation safety.”

Marcos Azambuja, once the Secretary-General of the Ministry of foreign Affairs and now a member of the “Brazilian center for International relations”, points to the importance of the Details of the agreement, especially when the Congress is dealing with it. “It’s no use having the perfect geographical location, but not the necessary technology. Alcântara works fantastic, if there are rockets to launch,” says the expert. “So we need the technology in the United States. However, the agreement required political, diplomatic and scientific care”, calls for Azambuja.

The agreement with the US enters into force, would be a supporter of Brazil as a potential user of the space station. Since then, Brazil States that were sanctioned by the United Nations, or which are not members of the missile technology control regime (MTCR), Alcântara do not provide may. Including China, which is not a party to the MTCR, but one of the biggest investors in Brazil and the biggest competitor of the United States to trade and technological progress is.