The Brazilian Space Agency failed in its attempt to place its first national satellite into orbit aboard an indigenous booster on 11 December when the second stage of the 19.4m (64ft)-high, $7.5 million Veiculo Lancador de Satelites VLS 1 went out of control. The booster had to be destroyed at T+3min 20s after lift-off from the national Alcantara launch base.

SACI-2, an 80kg (175lb) national science satellite built by the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE), was lost in the failure. The satellite was to test new technologies and perform remote sensor imaging work.

Marcio Barbosa, INPE's director, says the four solid propellant boosters strapped together to form the first stage of the VLS worked well, but the second stage, based on one of the first stage engines, failed to ignite.

This was the second flight of the VLS; the first failed in November 1997 after 65s when one of the first stage boosters failed. A third attempt to launch a VLS, with a Brazilian-French satellite, will be made in 2001.

INPE says that it will discontinue development of further SACI spacecraft.

Source: Flight International