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João Gilberto Vaz – Brazil is Going into Space – ISTOE

Sao Paulo ISTOE, 9 Aug 95
Brazil is going into space — literally. The trip is more like an obstacle course than anything else, with participants ranging from countries with leading-edge technology to megabusinessmen on the order of Bill Gates, owner of Microsoft. The objective is to dominate the closest region of the cosmos–that strip through which the constellations of communication microsatellites pass. The one who can put his satellites in orbit the fastest will reach the third millennium the soonest and, of course, also earn a lot of money.


In this competition, the Complete Brazilian Space Program is in a position to guarantee our country a spot on the podium. The final touches are being put on the Brazilian rocket known as the Satellite Launch Vehicle (VLS). Furthermore, commercial use of the Alcantara Launch Base, our space center in Maranhao, is increasing. NASA, which is responsible for the U.S. space program, launched 33 satellites from Alcantara in 1994 alone. That same NASA is training the man who will symbolize our presence in space. Rio de Janeiro physicist Claudio Egalon, 32 (see the interview [not included]), is very close to becoming the first Brazilian astronaut and obtaining passage on a flight on the U.S. space shuttle. Business will probably pick up even more following the announcement on Wednesday the 2d by Minister of Communications Sergio Motta that before this month is over, President Fernando Henrique Cardoso will sign a decree making it possible to expand the presence of private enterprise in the satellite sector.
The jewel of the space program is the Ecco (Equatorial Constellation Communications) Project, a spectacular plan whose budget of $450 million is being provided by the government and private enterprise. Ecco calls for launching 12 satellites into equatorial orbit to form a ring. The result will be the establishment of a cellular telephone system–with voice and data transmissions–throughout the intertropical region of the planet. Anyone located between Miami and Sao Paulo, for example, will be able to put through a call immediately to a citizen in Malaysia or India, two countries that are interested in joining the project. The nations in that intertropical region contain 40 percent of the world’s population and have a combined GDP [gross domestic product] exceeding $2.5 trillion. “Imagine a paramedic on the banks of the Amazon River receiving instructions from professionals at the Clinic Hospital in Sao Paulo on how to treat a patient,” says consultant Joao Vaz in Washington. Vaz is president of Brazsat (Brazilian Commercial Satellite Launch Services), a firm that has been exploiting commercial opportunities abroad for our space program.

João Gilberto Vaz has a successful track record in the path of Brazil in space.


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