Brazilian Space Agency (AEB)
Space Agency and Office • Member since 1996
The Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) is a civilian authority within the purview of the Executive Office of the President of Brazil, established by law on 10 February 1994.
It is in charge of overseeing Brazilian space activities and fostering cooperation, both nationally and internationally, for the furthering of the country’s goals in space. The Agency is called upon to coordinate the major elements of the Brazilian activities which are presently carried out by other institutions, constituting the so called National System for the Development of Space Activities- SINDAE.
The National Institute for Space Research (INPE), under the Ministry of Science and Technology, is in charge of projects devoted to the development of satellites and related technologies, as well as R&D activities in the fields of Space Applications, particularly Earth Observation, and Space and Atmospheric Sciences.
The Institute of Aeronautics and Space (IAE), under the Ministry of Aeronautics, is responsible for the development of satellite launchers and sounding rockets. This Ministry is also responsible for the development of a fully operational launch range at the Alcântara Launch Center (CLA), and for running the Barreira do Inferno Launch Center.
Other participants in the programme are the Brazilian universities and private sector. The first is being brought to participate both as proponent of R&D projects and as scientific and technical consultant, the second has been contracted to develop and supply systems, equipment and services.
In order to fulfill its role, the AEB has the legal mandate to formulate and carry out the Brazilian National Policy on the Development of Space Activities (PNDAE) and the Brazilian National Space Activities Program (PNAE). The Brazilian National Space Program- PNAE- was formally approved on August, 1996. Covering a 10 year period, it organises the country’s space activities into major programs intended to pursue the objectives of PNDAE. In doing so, it takes into account the history and the achievements of Brazil’s space activities being developed since the 60’s, the country’s present capabilities, and the guidelines set by the National Policy.
Currently, PNAE considers eight major programs: Space Applications, Satellites and Payloads, Satellite Launching Vehicles and Sounding Rockets, Space Infrastructure, Space Sciences, R&D on Space Technologies, Training and Development of Human Resources, and Support to the Qualification of the National Space Industry. PNAE’s present edition covers the 1996-2005 period and AEB is carrying its revision for the 1998-2007 period.
Some of the most important goals and activities encompassed by PNAE are highlighted next:
Satellites and Payloads
Development and construction of four small data collection satellites. The first one, SCD-1, was launched in 1993 and remains operational. The data collection service will be increased with the launching of SCD-2 and SCD-3 until 2000.
Since l988 China and Brazil are cooperating in a program to develop two remote sensing satellites, the CBERS (China- Brazil Earth Resources Satellite). Those satellites are designed for global coverage using optical cameras, with characteristics similar to those of Landsat and Spot. The first one is scheduled for launch in l998. Presently the parties are also studying the extension of the program to include two more satellites.
SACI is a micro-satellite being developed to carry four experiments conceived by Brazilian scientists and their foreign partners. It shall be launched with CBERS-1, as a piggyback. Other scientific satellites are expected to follow.
Two small earth observation satellites, SSR-1 and SSR-2, projected to operate in equatorial circular orbit at an altitude of 900 Km, are under development and scheduled for launch in the years 2000 and 2003.- The concept of an equatorial low earth orbit satellite constellation, aimed basically towards providing low cost communications to remote areas around the Equator, was approved in 1994. Since then the project evolved, was detailed and properly notified to ITU. The strategy for its implementation is presently being re-analysed.
As a result of the cooperation agreement signed between NASA and AEB, a Brazilian CCD remote sensing camera is scheduled for two experimental flights on board of the Space Shuttle. Also, Brazil is developing a humidity sensor to integrate the payload of NASA’s EOS-PM1 satellite, part of the EOS programme.
Several other international cooperation alternatives are under consideration.
International Space Station
- According to a governmental agreement signed between Brazil and the USA, AEB will be responsible for the development and provision to NASA of equipment which are part of NASA’s contribution to the ISS program. In exchange, AEB will receive rights from NASA’s allocation to utilise the ISS.
Since the early seventies Brazil has been undertaking a long term launcher program which started with the development of a successful family of sounding rockets named SONDA. The sounding rocket subprogram continues and is now benefiting from technologies developed for the satellite launcher subprogramme.
The technology developed for the sounding rockets was the basis for the satellite launcher subprogram. The first flight test of the Brazilian small satellite launcher VLS-1 was performed on November 2, 1997. Three other qualification launchings are planned for the coming years.
A smaller launcher, VLM, is also planned for the near future, as an alternative for the launching of micro-satellites.
The next launcher in the Program will be the VLS-2, with enlarged capacity, aiming at the market represented by the low orbit satellite constellations.
The Alcântara Launch Center (CLA) is being developed since the 80’s and is now prepared to launch Brazilian solid fuel sounding rockets and research vehicles, as well as to place satellites into low Earth orbit. Located on the Brazilian Northeastern Coast, near the Equator, CLA´s geographical position increases the Center safety conditions and allows for lower launching costs. In the coming years the Center is expected to enlarge its capacity and become commercially competitive both for national and international users.
The extensive and valuable space infrastructure the country has been able to develop, which besides launching centers includes integration and test facilities, satellite and missions control centers, ground stations, observatories and research laboratories, shall be properly maintained, upgraded and expanded to meet the needs of the national programme.
- Brazil’s geographic and economic characteristics are such that there is a great potential to employ space technology to meet national needs. Those include the country’s continental size, its under-populated land borders, its huge coastline, its tropical forest regions and the enormous areas characterized by difficult access and sparse population distribution, besides the extensive natural resources still to be surveyed in its territory. Therefore, space applications are directed towards the solution of concrete national problems, in the fields of earth observation (agriculture, environment, natural resources and territorial organization), meteorology, oceanography, communications, navigation and geodesy.
The budget for the Brazilian space activities has been growing steadily on recent years and is expected to keep on this pattern as it is a long term governmental policy to substantially increase the country’s investments on science and technology.
For 1998 the expected budget is around US$ 100 million for projects, plus another U$ 70 million for salaries and the maintenance of general facilities. It shall be provided mostly by the Federal Government through Brazilian Space Agency, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Aeronautics.
The recent budget has focused mostly on the development of satellites (37%), space infrastructure (32%), and launchers (19%).