Brazil and the United States are set to complete a deal that started over 15 years ago. The United States in 2002 started a discussion with Brazil to allow US satellites to launch from the Alcantara Base in Brazil. The initial talks between the two government officials did not end well because the United States wanted to keep its technological secrets from Brazil.
Brazil also wanted to have more technological information of the US will launch from the country. They argued that if the US keeps the technological information to themselves, they would violate the sovereignty of Brazil. This disagreement led to an abrupt end of the discussion.
In new developments, Brazil’s foreign minister Aloysio Nunes announced after a meeting with the United States secretary of States Mike Pompeo on Monday that the two governments have resumed talks.
In the new developments, Aloysio Nunes stated that it is legitimate for the United States to defend its trade secrets. He also mentioned that they are discussing how the US can continue to defend its trade secrets without violating the sovereignty of Brazil.
The Alcantara Base is located at the North NorthEastern part of Brazil. The base is situated in the Maranhao State. The launch base is situated at a place that makes its favorable for launch purposes. It is not far (160 miles) from the Equatorial line which means satellites can save fuel when they launch from this site.
The base is the launching facaility of the Brazil Space Agency and the Brazil Air Force operates it. Brazil began constructing the base in 1982. The country’s first launch was on February 21, 1990 and the base has only seen the launching of VLS and sounding rockets since its first launch
America is not the only country that has expressed interest in launching from this site. Isreal, France, and Russia have also expressed their interest in the site. Earlier this year, three US space firms have expressed interest in launching from the base.
US space giants, Lockheed Martin and Boeing want to use the base. Rocket manufacturer Vector would also like to use the base.
In an interview, Jonathan McDowell, an anthrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center said it will be beneficial to use the base to launch large satellites into geosynchronous orbits since the base is lying idle. It is exceptionally advantageous since the satellites will launch from the equator. He estimated that launching from the Alcantara base will save up to 20% of fuel compared to launching from a location such as Florida.