Brazil seeks opportunities in space technology

The Brazilian Space Agency wants to build on recent developments around its first satellite to start new projects in areas such as IoT and Big Data.
Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer

The Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) is seeking to evolve its space technology capability and identify new opportunities for new projects that can potentially bring socioeconomic benefits, in areas such as analysis of satellite data.

With a view of identifying opportunities around technology solutions based on space systems and building proximity to the industry to develop projects in the field, the AEB, an autarchy linked to the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications (MCTIC) signed a protocol of intentions with Visiona, , a joint venture between Brazilian aerospace firm Embraer and state-owned telecoms company Telebras.

The two-year partnership with the company, which has delivered Brazil's Geostationary Defense and Strategic Communications Satellite (SGDC), will aim to exploit the possibility of providing technical services, consultancy and establishing technology transfers around satellite systems and sensors.

The organizations also want to combine their expertise to develop technology systems based on space platforms, integrating data-intensive technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data in new geotechnology applications and solutions for purposes such as mapping and identification of natural risks.

Prior to the completion of SGDC, Brazil did not have satellites of its own and leased eight satellites operated by foreign companies. According to Visiona's president João Paulo Campos, the company's successful delivery of Brazil's first satellite paves the way for the evolution of the country's space technology ambitions.

SGDC, which entered orbit in 2017, connects healthcare providers, schools and communities in remote and vulnerable conditions, according to Campos, and is a particularly critical instrument during the Covid-19 pandemic: "The [satellite] was a concrete example of how we can make good use of space systems, " he said.

Campos noted that exploiting socioeconomic opportunities in relation to space has long been part of the agenda of the Brazilian science and technology minister, astronaut and Air Force pilot Marcos Pontes.

"Minister Pontes has insisted, since the start of the current administration, that we must use space to resolve concrete situations for Brazilian citizens", said Visiona's Moura, adding that the first national satellite was developed in line with world trends.

"With compact and versatile systems, it is possible to develop applications that solve a plethora of demands from the Brazilian society," Moura noted.

In March last year, the Brazilian government signed a space technology safeguard agreement (TSA) with the US with hopes to revive its own activities in the sector and monetize opportunities related to space.

The idea was that Brazil would be able to claim a share of the space launch business, estimated to generate nearly $300 billion a year, by allowing US companies to launch out of the Brazilian Air Force's Alcantara Launch Center.

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