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Alcantara Launch Center (2°20'S; 44°24'W)

Space launches are attempted from the Alcântara Launching Center (Centro de Lançamento de Alcântara--CLA), in Maranhão, President Sarney's home state. The impossibility of expansion of the Center of Launching of the Barrier of Inferno (CLBI), in function of the process of urban nucleation, was one of the factors that led more to the accomplishment of studies for definition of an adjusted place for another spaceport.

After criteria analysis, an area in the peninsula of Alcântara, in the Maranhão,was chosen to shelter the launching center. This region presents some excellent requirements, as low population density, excellent conditions of security and easiness of aerial and maritime access. The E, most important, is accurately 2º 18' S of the Equator. This privileged position makes possible to use to advantage the maximum of the rotation of the Land to stimulate the launchings aiming at equatorial orbits, as well as presents the favorable coast the polar launchings.

Constructed in the 1980s, the Center of Launching of Alcântara (CLA), under the Command of the Aeronautics, occupies an area of 620 kilometers squared and already it is operational to take care of to the internal demand and external of Vls-1. and sounding rockets Between the main available installations in the Center, they are: building of " dangerous operations ", destined to the preparation for flight, as much of systems of vehicles as of satellites; system of forecast and monitorização of the meteorological conditions and station for communication saw satellite.

The CLA, officially dedicated on February 21, 1990, cost more than US$470 million to develop. It is the closest launch center to the equator in the world (2.3 degrees south of the equator), making it attractive for launches of geostationary satellites. For example, because it is so close to the equator it provides a 25 percent fuel savings compared with Cape Kennedy. The space base of Alcântara offers the best location among all launch centers of the world, near to the Equator, and allowing rapid orbit entry and great fuel savings. This is a powerful argument in all negotiations for scientific and technological cooperation with other countries.

In October 1995 Brazil offered Russia the use of its Alcântara base, to launch rockets. President Cardoso visited Moscow from 13 to 15 January 2002. His visit was quite successful with an entourage of 91 government officials, politicians and business leaders. This was Cardoso's 85th trip in 7 years. Brazil and Russia signed a cooperation agreement whereby Russia will be able to use Brazil's satellite launching base in Alcantara, Maranhao. At the same time, Russia may furnish remote sensing systems for Brazilian satellites with a resolution of one meter.

Brazil’s plan to become a new hub in the space industry will depend on concluding a technology safeguard agreement (TSA) with the United States to protect sensitive American space launch and satellite technology. In December 2017, Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin Corp visited the Alcantara space center, which is especially attractive to smaller firms, such as Tucson, Arizona-based rocket-maker Vector Launch Inc because of its location. But without a technology safeguard agreement (TSA) that protects sensitive American space launch and satellite technology, no U.S. rocket could fly from Brazil.

A previous attempt at a U.S.-Brazilian space partnership was scuttled in 2003 when the TSA ran into resistance from the leftist government of former president Lula da Silva and was thwarted by Brazilian lawmakers. It floundered because U.S. unverified access to the Alcantara base was not acceptable to Brazilian politicians on sovereignty grounds. The TSA is seen by Washington as opening opportunities for greater cooperation in aerospace and defense between the two countries.

The decision to rekindle stalled talks followed a meeting between Brazil’s Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on 04 June 2018. Unlike the situation in 2002, Brazil now says that it may not necessarily demand U.S. technological knowhow, something that was considered a violation to Brazil’s sovereignty when the U.S. refused previously.


Brazil struck a deal with Ukraine in July 2003 under which Alcantara would be the host station for launches of that country's Cyclone rockets. Brazil ended the program in February 2015, saying that Ukraine's financial problems left it unable to provide rockets as promised.

Ukrainian – Brazilian Cyclone-4 project provides for development of a new Cyclone-4 space carrier vehicle in Ukraine, as well as construction of the ground complex for its launches at Alcantara launch site in Brazil. The project is aimed at provision of spacecraft launch services for the benefit of Ukrainian and Brazilian space programs, as well as of the third countries on a commercial basis. Cooperation between Ukraine and Brazil in the area of space activities started in November, 1999 after signing of the Framework Agreement on Cooperation in Use of Space for Peaceful Purposes.

In January, 2002 during the meeting between the President of the Federative Republic of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso and the President of Ukraine Leonid Danylovych Kuchma in Kyiv, an intergovernmental Agreement on Technology Safeguards Associated with Participation of Ukraine in Launches from the Alcantara Launch Center and Memorandum of Understanding between the National Space Agency of Ukraine and the Brazilian Space Agency on Utilization of Ukrainian Launch Vehicles at the Alcantara Launch Center were signed. It elaborated an international legal framework required to initiate practical implementation of the joint space project.

On October 21st, 2003 in the course of official visit of the President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma to the Federative Republic of Brazil, a Treaty between Ukraine and the Federative Republic of Brazil on Long-term Cooperation in Utilization of the Cyclone-4 Launch Vehicle at the Alcantara Launch Center was signed.

According to the Treaty, the Ukrainian Party is responsible for development of Cyclone-4 launch vehicle, whereas the Brazilian Party develops general infrastructure necessary for Cyclone-4 launching. In 2004, the Treaty was ratified be the Parliaments of Ukraine and Brazil. Immediately following the Treaty ratification, work started on both Cyclone-4 launch vehicle development and preparation of production facilities for its manufacturing.

On August 31st, 2006 on a parity basis, that is fifty-fifty, a Ukraine-Brazil Alcantara Cyclone Space (ACS) Binational Company (BC) was established. The BC ACS founders: for the Ukrainian Party – these are the National Space Agency and the State Property Fund, for the Brazilian Party – Ministry for Science and Technology and the Brazilian Space Agency. On August 30th, 2007 the First BC ACS Board of Directors’ meeting was held, and the company headquarters was open in Brazil in December, 2007. Alcantara Cyclone Space Binational Company is entrusted with the development and operation of the launch site at Alcantara Launch Center, and is to provide launch services of the Cyclone-4 launch vehicle.

In 2008, the works on Cyclone-4 ground complex creation were started. In April, 2010 Alcantara Cyclone Space BC obtained an environmental license in Brazil, and in September, 2010 – a license for construction of Cyclone-4 ground complex. In 2010, the area was cleared for ground complex construction at Alcantara launch site, and the contract with construction organization was concluded for building of communications and facilities.

On September 9th, 2010 the foundation stone laying ceremony to the Cyclone-4 ground complex took place at Alcantara Launch Center. In late 2010, the area was cleared for ground complex construction at Alcantara launch site, and the contract with construction organization for building of communications and facilities was concluded. In 2011, the works on Cyclone-4 ground complex construction diligently started at Alcantara Launch Center. On October 23rd-25th, 2011 in the framework of the President of Ukraine V.F.Yanukovych’s state visit to the Federative Republic of Brazil, status and prospectives of Ukraine-Brazil space cooperation were discussed. Meeting between the Presidents gave an impulse to implementation of joint Cyclone-4 project.

In June, 2012 the initial batch of support equipment for Cyclone-4 ground complex was shipped from Ukraine to Brazil for further assembly at Alcantara Launch Center.

Brazil asked to change the year of the project fulfillment for a few times: 2009, 2011, and 2015. On 08 April 2015 the joint Ukrainian-Brazilian launch company Alcantara Cyclone Space (ACS) received a whole set of Working Design Documentation for the Cyclone 4 launch site ground support equipment. According to the company, the delivery was needed to prepare for installation and testing activities at the Alcantara Launch Center.

But the Ukrainian party didn't create the rocket and Brazil had to terminate the contract in April 2015. The two governments had spent approximately R$ 1 billion (US$ 328 million) in the failed venture, splitting the bill. Despite this fact, they kept building Cyclone-4 and by the moment of breaking the agreement, it was ready by 90 %. But without Brazil which wants to sign the contract about the lease of Alcantara by SpaceX, the launch is impossible.

On 29 January 2016, QB50, a project to launch 50 CubeSats for researching the Earth’s atmosphere, has shifted plans from launching with the Brazilian-Ukrainian Cyclone 4 rocket to instead launching with NanoRacks and Kosmotras. The mission, scheduled to begin in 2016, split into a series of multiple launches after Alcantara Cyclone Space’s Cyclone 4 project stalled out.

Estação Terrena do INPE

The stations of Tracking and Control are the connector links enter the Control center of Satellites and the satellites. A parabolic antenna and equipment of radio are constituted of frequency to transmit to the satellites the telecommands generated for the Control center, as well as receiving the signals from Telemetry sent for the satellites. The interconnection enters the stations of tracing and control of Cuiabá and Alcântara to the Control center of Satellites in São José dos Campos is made through a net of private communication of data.

Telemedidas e Meteorologia

During the operations of launching, the Meteorological Station supplies the meteorological conditions in real time, as well as the necessary forecasts to the determination of the viability of the launching. Of the given multiples that it supplies, the relative ones to the direction sobressaem and speed of the wind, in surface and altitude, that are destined to the Security of Flight, in the Control center, where they compose the calculations used in the adjustment of the thrower, propitiating the correction of the trajectory of the vehicle, when this does not possess autopilotagem system. As daily routine, it carries through the collection, the storage and the transmission of climatológicos data. These are sent to the Division of Atmospheric Sciences of the Institute of Aeronautics and Espaço (IAE), where they are analyzed with the objective of if defining the climatológico profile of the region of the CLA.

Setor de Preparação e Lançamento

Building of Preparation of Carga Útil (Prédio de Preparação da Carga Útil - PPCU) - Construction destined to the preparation and the integration of satellites and useful loads of sounding vehicles. M² possesss as main installations a central ship with 104,5, equipped with rolling bridge of 3,2 ton of capacity and " a clean room " with 31,5 m², where the degree of pureness of air is rigorously controlled (100,000 classroom p/ft³). Rooms for instrumentation, monitoramento and control complement 560 the internal area of m². The PPCU counts on a system of aterramento and protection against atmospheric discharges.

Platform VLS -- Installation projected and constructed to operate the Launch vehicle of Satélites (VLS). It understands the following main modules:

  • Table of Lançamento (Mesa de Lançamento - ML): metallic structure that acts as base of sustentation for the integration and the launching of the Vls-1;
  • Mobile tower of Integração (Torre Móvel de Integração - TMI): metallic structure of 200 ton of weight and 32,8m of height, equipped to provide the ways of integration them periods of training it VLS on the launching table. By occasion of the launching, the TMI is moved away 53 from the Table of Launching; This metallic structure, weighing approximately 150 tf, with 32,8m of height, equipped in order to provide the integration with the VLS on the launching table. The TMI possesss a movement system on tracks, moving away itself up to 53 m of the launching table, before the take-off the vehicle. The basic dimensions of the TMI are 10,0 x 9,5 x 32,8 m. Its metallic structure have form of "U" and support six platforms of works in the corresponding levels to the host interfaces of the VLS. In the high part of the TMI, it has a room with controlled environment, for installation and inspection of the useful load and main kitchen-range overhead exhaust of the vehicle;
  • Tower of Umbilicais (Torre de Umbilicais - TU): metallic structure that serves of support for the electric umbilicais and refrigeration of the Vls-1; e
  • Room of Interface (Sala de Interface - SI): underground structure destined to lodge the equipment and pictures of interconnection of the operational systems of the vehicle and the TMI.

Center of Controle Avançado (Centro de Controle Avançado - CAV) -- Installation to the test of explosions, retombamento and pollution of gases of exhaustion, destined to shelter, during the operations of launching, the teams and the equipment of supervision and control of the launch vehicle, the useful load and the devices of launching. The CAV is located and equipped in order in such a way to allow to the effective supervision and control of the carried through launchings of the Universal Platform (suborbitais vehicles) how much of Platform VLS.

(Lançador de Porte Médio- LPM)

Thrower of Porte Médio (Lançador de Porte Médio- LPM) -- Located in the Universal Platform, the LPM consists in the slope of launching of suborbitais vehicles, with mass of take-off of up to 10 ton. The Thrower of Average Transport is equipped with an electromechanical system of adjustment in azimuth and rise, commanded remotely from the Advanced Control center. From the LPM already two sets of ten of suborbitais vehicles had been launched more than, national (SOUNDING LEAD II, SOUNDING LEAD III, Vs-30 and Vs-40), how much in such a way American (Nike-Orion and Nike-Tomahawk).

In the period of 6 the 15 of March of this year, the "Operation was become fullfilled in the CLA Is Marcos", culminating with the launching of a sounding rocket VS-30, that on board took a useful load with Brazilian experiments, Germans and Americans. The event marked the hundredth launching of a sounding rocket produced for the Institute of Aeronautics and Espaço (IAE), of Centro Técnico Aeroespacial (CTA).

This was the room launching of the sounding rocket VS-30, vehicle monoperiod of training, that uses the first period of training of SOUNDING LEAD III, with index of superior nationalization 95%, allowing to affirm that such project is plus one of the well-occurred ones of the Command of the Aeronautics, also for the increment that brings for the national industry.

As it is of common knowledge, the sounding rockets are used for suborbitais missions, carrying composed useful loads from scientific and technological experiments.

In this in case that, beyond if having fulfilled plus a stage of the National Program of Atividades Espaciais (PNAE), it were made possible accomplishment of some technological and scientific experiments in microgravity environment, of significant relevance for the national and international scientific community.

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Page last modified: 17-03-2019 13:29:27 ZULU