The Brazilian Space Agency will attempt to launch its second Veiculo Lancador de Satelites (VLS) indigenous launch vehicle in September. The first flight failed in 1997, shortly after lift-off, when a solid rocket strap-on motor malfunctioned, putting the vehicle off course.

The VLS will launch the SACI 2 satellite from the national Alcantara launch centre, with three science experiments aboard. The craft is a 60kg (130lb) minisatellite, with a platform capable of carrying varying types of payload.

The VLS 3 is to be launched in 2001, carrying a Brazilian-French science microsatellite. Brazil is providing the microwave sounder for the NASA Earth Observing System EOM-1 mission next year. A Brazilian astronaut is training as a mission specialist with NASA for an International Space Station (ISS) mission.

The Brazilian Government is committed to paying NASA the equivalent of $23 million this year for participation in the ISS, but is having difficulty because of the weakness of its currency against the US dollar.

Source: Flight International