SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil’s Senate approved on Tuesday the ratification of an agreement signed earlier this year to safeguard U.S. space and defense technology that opens the way for U.S. companies to use Brazil’s Alcantara base in the Northeastern-state of Maranhao to launch satellites.
The pact was signed in March during an official visit by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to Washington, where he met with Donald Trump.
A previous attempt at a U.S.-Brazilian space partnership was scuttled in 2003 when it ran into resistance from the leftist government of then-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and was thwarted by Brazilian lawmakers.
The technology safeguard agreement (TSA) opens room for U.S. companies interested in launching small satellites at a lower cost from the Alcantara space center run by the Brazilian Air Force on the South American country’s north coast.
Brazil, however, will not have access to U.S. technologies in missiles, rockets, artifacts and satellites, as the Brazilian government once requested.
Because of the Brazilian base’s location close to the equator, launches burn 30% less fuel and rockets can carry larger payloads, according to Air Force officers.
With TSA, Brazil wants to get a piece of the $300 billion-a-year space launch business, a market which is expected to grow fast in the next few years.
Reporting by Eduardo Simões; Writing by Gabriela Mello; Editing by Leslie Adler