Brazil Launches Committee to Develop Space Program

The Brazilian Air Force is part of the nine working groups of the Brazilian Space Program Development Committee—a creation of the federal government.
Taciana Moury/Diálogo | 10 April 2018

Capacity Building

The first meeting of the Brazilian Space Program Development Committee was held in Brasília in early March. (Photo: Brazilian Air Force Technical Sergeant Johnson Barros)

The Brazilian government created an inter-ministerial structure to enliven the aerospace sector. The Brazilian Space Program Development Committee (CDPEB, in Portuguese) brings together the ministries of Defense; Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications and Foreign Relations, among others. Its purpose is to analyze and present solutions, guidelines, and goals to boost the Brazilian Space Program (PEB, in Portuguese). The Institutional Security Cabinet of the Office of the President coordinates the new body.

FAB Lieutenant General Luiz Fernando de Aguiar, chairman of the Space Systems Coordination and Implementation Committee, highlighted the importance of the new interministerial structure to stimulate the Brazilian Space Program. (Photo: FAB Senior Airman André Feitosa)

The Brazilian Air Force (FAB, in Portuguese), tasked with promoting the Brazilian space sector, takes part in the nine working groups CDPEB set up to examine issues related to the industry, including satellite development, personnel restructuring, governance, PEB expansion, and technological safeguards with other countries. “FAB has technical representatives in the nine working groups, who coordinate and join in various discussions,” FAB Lieutenant General Luiz Fernando de Aguiar, chairman of the Space Systems Coordination and Implementation Committee (CCISE, in Portuguese), told Diálogo. “As such, the Air Force helps come up with the best alternative solutions to present the council of ministers.”

According to Lt. Gen. Aguiar, the new ministerial structure is of fundamental importance to the nation’s space industry. “Technologies, systems, and benefits acquired through our space programs cross over different areas of the government and require close coordination for resources to be efficiently applied,” he explained, adding that investments in the space industry are only possible through the participation of various ministries.

Improved governance

CCISE, which is directly connected to the first working group, deals with issues related to governance. “The purpose of this working group is to improve governance over the space industry through the establishment of the Space Executive Committee [CEE, in Portuguese] and the National Space Council [CNE, in Portuguese], which will be coordinated by the Executive Office of the President,” Lt. Gen. Aguiar said.

The new governance is expected to increase in the number of PEB-related priority issues on government agendas, ensuring greater stability in the allocation of resources, as well as an optimal level of investment for development. “The work of CEE and CNE will extend the scope of the Brazilian Space Agency’s coordinated actions, and the agency will begin reporting to the Executive Office of the President, facilitating the kinds of multi-sector decisions needed to ensure that its actions are carried out in the space industry,” Lt. Gen. Aguiar said.

CDPEB's initiatives will bolster PEB to set agendas and ensure speedy solutions to structural problems. “One example is to lower the barriers hindering international negotiations,” Lt. Gen. Aguiar said, adding that the committee plans for safeguard agreements with other nations. “The solutions found will facilitate space sector agreements with other nations, contributing to improved results in product delivery.”

Lt. Gen. Aguiar also noted that CDPEB will create more suitable conditions for private companies in the industry. “The founding of Alada - Brazilian Aerospace Projects Corporation, S.A., a public company under FAB, will facilitate private companies’ access to launch center laboratories and infrastructure,” he said. Solving problems related to safeguarding agreements and land issues, he added, and the founding of Alada, can stimulate the sector, by expediting the operations of private entities at the Alcântara Launch Center (CLA, in Portuguese), among others. “CLA becomes increasingly viable and advantageous for Brazil, bringing wealth and quality jobs to the local population,” he said.

General Nivaldo Luiz Rossato (right), commander of FAB, represented the Ministry of Defense during the first CDPEB meeting chaired by Brazilian Army General Sergio Westphalen Etchegoyen (center), minister of the Institutional Security Cabinet. (Photo: FAB Technical Sergeant Johnson Barros)

Increased technical staff

Another of CDPEB’s concerns is in staff restructuring at the Department of Aviation Science and Technology (DCTA, in Portuguese). According to FAB Major General Cesar Demétrio, an engineer in charge of DCTA’s Technical Division and a member of the working group, the current staff of public employees at DCTA and projections for the year 2020 show the need to leverage a three-pronged approach to staffing: university-industry-government. “This will allow for social and economic development by preserving institutional knowledge in all the organizations involved,” Maj. Gen. Demétrio told Diálogo.

DCTA, he added, is crucial to Brazilian space development. “We can point to solutions created for space entry, for maintenance and upgrade of rocket launch sites, and for specifications and research into dual-view satellites in the areas of communications, earth observation, positioning, and meteorology to preserve the sovereignty of Brazilian airspace and help connect the nation,” Maj. Gen. Demétrio said.

Staff restructuring at the Air Force Command and the Aerospace Institute—where certain activities were concentrated to serve various military organizations or sectors (defense, aviation, and space)—allowed for a reduced number of workers to perform planned activities. However, areas lacking employees with specialized knowledge for long-term employment remain.

“Restocking knowledge areas allows the work on strategic projects heavily dependent on foreign technology to resume. Let me stress that the loss of technically trained staff and tacit knowledge, which occurred in the past years, led to constant delay in project completion and the necessity to purchase advanced technological systems and equipment abroad,” Maj. Gen. Demétrio explained. CDPEB, he believes, will stimulate the development of the space industry. “When we get these agendas scheduled at ministerial levels, we can give the program greater prominence and it then becomes a priority for the government, not just for the administration,” he added.

Advances in space development

FAB announced the acquisition of an Earth observation satellite. CCISE presented the project in Brasília on March 27th, during a meeting of the Space Operations Governance Committee (CGE, in Portuguese).

The Space Operations Center, a unit under the Aerospace Operations Command, headquartered in Brasília, oversees the complete process—from launch to end of operations. “This will be an orbital remote optical sensing system set to a [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] NATO-intermediate level of image quality that intelligence and farming systems can use,” FAB Colonel José Vagner Vital, vice president of CCISE, told the Air Force Press Agency.

Tthe purchase of the satellite can stimulate the development of Brazilian technologies through agreements with private companies. “The system is likely to pay for itself, enabling Brazilian companies to develop within this market, bringing more wealth to the country. It can also complete assignments more efficiently than FAB assets can. Instead of sending up a drone or an aircraft, better planning and information can be achieved via satellite. And not only will FAB use such assets, but the Brazilian Army and Navy can also use them much more discretely, improving efficiency and reducing risks in their operations,” Col. Vital concluded.

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