Two months after Brazilian space agency AEB endured its worst setback, the governments of Brazil and Ukraine have signed an agreement that will lead to the establishment of a joint-venture satellite launching enterprise using the Tsyklon-4 launch vehicle under the name Alcântara Cyclone Space. The agreement's guidelines were finalised on 23 August, the date that Brazil's indigenous VLS-1 launch vehicle exploded on the pad days before it was due to be launched from the Alcântara Launch Centre.

The agreement calls for investments of nearly $105 million to be equally divided between the two governments. The Ukrainians are expected to invest $40 million in further development of the Tsyklon-4 launch vehicle, while the Brazilian share will be assigned to developing and enlarging the Alcântara launch centre's facilities and infrastructure. The AEB is to spend an additional $30 million reportedly earmarked for the purchase of support equipment.

Alcântara Cyclone Space will be tailored to satisfy the two countries' space programme requirements, although Brazilian and Ukrainian sources indicate that the venture will actively offer its services to other countries. AEB president Luiz Bevilacqua says the first Tsyklon-4 launch from Alcântara has been tentatively set for 2007, with initial tests scheduled for no later than October 2006. The Tsyklon-4 is a Tsyklon-2 booster with a third stage and restartable Fregat upper stage. The launcher will be able to place 1,800kg (3,965lb) into geostationary transfer orbit and 5,500kg into low-Earth orbit from Alcântara. The venture is aiming for six launches a year valued at $240 million.

Source: Flight International