Brazil signs deal to allow US satellite launch from Alcântara Space Base

Washington and Brasília signed agreement after 20 years of negotiations, amid concerns about Brazil's sovereignty

São Paulo |
Brazil’s Alcântara space base is located in Maranhão, near the equator
Brazil’s Alcântara space base is located in Maranhão, near the equator - Space Agency/Handout

After 20 years of negotiations, Brazil signed an agreement to open up its Alcântara space base for commercial use by the United States.

In 2000, the then Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso actually signed a Technology Safeguards Agreement that allowed the US to launch satellites from the Alcantara base, but the Congress barred it, arguing it could hurt the country's sovereignty.

The first proposal was to create a US exclusive area Brazil would not be allowed to use, allegedly to defend North American technological secrets.

The Brazilian ambassador to the United States, Sérgio Amaral, told the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, which broke the news on Monday, that the negotiations took into consideration the criticism brought up by the country’s Congress, in order to reduce “US interference in Brazil.”

The Alcântara space base is located in the state of Maranhão, near the equator. In a 2017 interview granted to Brasil de Fato, Ronaldo Carmona, a researcher at the Geography Department of the University of São Paulo, spoke about the risk of US presence in the country, as Washington’s interest is to contain the rise of new powers.

“The United States has always moved to reduce Brazil’s strategic capacity to be a country with greater autonomy and conditions to assert itself as a power among nations,” Carmona said at the time.

Also according to the O Estado de S. Paulo report, the negotiations are now concluded, only pending review by members of the two countries. The Brazilian government has not disclosed the agreement yet.

Edited by: Aline Carrijo | Translated by Aline Scátola