Brazil is discussing with the other members of the Artemis Program how it can contribute to the initiative, a NASA (American space agency) project to take astronauts to the Moon and establish a base on the satellite as an intermediate point for missions to Mars.
“In the beginning, we intend to engage in scientific aspects and we are looking to develop a satellite to study space weather to be launched to the Moon”, states the AEB (Brazilian Space Agency), in a note, to Sheet.
“In addition, we are exploring other lines of research with the Brazilian scientific community, including, for example, the possibility of Brazil contributing results in space agriculture”, adds the agency.
The seed for the creation of the Artemis Program is in the policy known as the Vision for Space Exploration, presented in 2004 by George W. Bush. During the Donald Trump administration, the lunar program was renamed — it changed from Constellation to Artemis (sister of Apollo in Greek mythology) — with the promise of taking the first woman to the Moon.
Last year, the program’s first mission was carried out, the launch of the Space Launch System rocket, or SLS. Artemis 2, scheduled for November 2024, will consist of a manned flight — there will be one woman and three men — to the vicinity of the Moon. In 2025, the third mission should be launched, with astronauts landing on the satellite.
To date, 28 countries have signed the so-called Artemis Accords. Brazil, the 12th signatory, signed the document on June 15, 2021.
Under the agreements, countries assume that all activities will be conducted for peaceful purposes; publicly describe its policies and plans; adopt systems interoperability; provide assistance to astronauts in distress; and publicly disseminate scientific data.
The program also foresees the participation of astronauts from different countries, but Brazil is not included in this group. “There is currently no plan for a Brazilian astronaut to participate in missions to the Moon”, says AEB. “However, it cannot be ruled out that the scenario will change in the future.”
In parallel, nations like India and China are investing in trips to the satellite, in a new race for the Moon half a century after the end of the space dispute between the Soviet Union and the United States.
Brazil’s plans for space
Participation in the Artemis Program is foreseen in the Pnae (National Space Activities Program) 2022-2031, which has Brazil as a vision of the future as the leading South American country in the space market.
In this sense, the national plan presents five critical factors for strengthening the sector, starting with the coordination between government, industry, academia and society.
Raising public opinion regarding space issues and creating investment opportunities are two other fundamental aspects. Completing the list is the prioritization of technologies that can be transformed into products in the short and medium term and the compatibility of civil and defense initiatives.
The document also lists the strategic objectives until 2031. They are: establishing, developing and maintaining a Brazilian State Space Program, with guaranteed short, medium and long-term resources; meet the needs of society and the State; develop national industry; stimulate business; encourage the development of scientific, technological and innovation skills; ensure non-dependence in the development and control of national space systems; and consolidate understanding of the benefits of the space sector.
As for investments, they are presented in five possible scenarios and divided into space missions, access to space, skills development and applications infrastructure.
In an investment scenario of R$1.2 billion for the period from 2022 to 2031, R$580 million (49%) is forecast for infrastructure and applications (ground equipment, logistical resources and computer systems). Another R$480 million (40%) must be allocated to space missions. The remainder is aimed at both developing skills and access to space (development of launch vehicles and their systems).
In this process, AEB hopes to see international companies choosing Brazil to carry out space launches. There is also the intention, for example, to organize missions with small satellites, which collect environmental data, and the flight of the VLM-1 Microsatellite Launch Vehicle.
In the model with the highest investment, with around R$ 13.2 billion, R$ 7.2 billion (55%) are planned for space missions; R$3.2 billion (24%) for access to space; R$1.5 billion for infrastructure and applications; and R$1.3 billion (10%) for skills development.
For the agency, with this amount, it would be possible to develop large satellites for low orbit and geostationary satellites, and recurrent launches of national launch vehicles for low orbit.