NEW DELHI: Brazil on Sunday said it was looking to deepen cooperation in space technologies with India in the areas of payload and platform development as India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket carried into space the earth observation satellite, the Amazonia-1, entirely developed by Brazil.
The launch of the 637-kg Amazonia-1 is the first by India of a Brazilian satellite. The PSLV-C51 which launched the Amazonia-1 and more than another dozen Indian satellites on Sunday is the first dedicated commercial mission of NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), the Indian Space Research Organisation’s commercial arm that was set up in 2019.
“The commercial use of space has been the major trend in all of the nations nowadays. Brazil and India have a very strong partnership and we can work together using the facilities and the knowledge that we have commercially. I see this as a very good opportunity for both countries,"said Marcos Pontes, Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation who is in India to witness the launch.
The Amazonia-1 will provide remote-sensing data for observation and monitoring of deforestation in the Amazon rain forests and the state of agriculture in Brazil. The data obtained from the satellite is expected to be used also for monitoring of coastal regions, water reservoirs, natural and cultivated forests and predicting possible environmental disasters. The satellite has a wide-view optical imager or camera with 3 visible frequency bands with 60 meters’ resolution. It will be set on a sun synchronous orbit (passing over one point of the earth at the same time every day), generating images of any part of the world every 5 days, according to Brazilian officials.
According to Clezio de Nardin, director of the National Space Institute of Brazil (INPE), “we are looking for cooperation in payload development and also in satellite platform development. These are both main targets but it is not limited to these. We are also looking at the development of ground instrumentation for space science. Since India has a great number of facilities, we would like to strengthen our bonds and relations in this area too and develop."
India and Brazil formalized cooperation in space with a pact in 2004 but according to de Nardin, cooperation between the two countries has been going on for decades. Cooperation after the agreement has included tracking services and reception of remote sensing data. Thanks to the 2004 pact, India used Brazil’s Cuiabá earth station to collect localization data right after the launch of the famous Mangalyaan Mars Orbiter mission in 2013. Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), through its ground stations, has also provided tracking support to Indian missions like Chandrayaan-1 on commercial basis.
“We have similar goals and expectations in our development goals that we are trying to reach we complement each other," de Nardin said.
On Brazil’s newly refurbished launch centre – which has been rebuilt recently after a rocket exploded at the Alcantara Launch Center in 2003 killing 21 people – de Nardin said: “We have our launch facility at the equator."
“It is not close but at the equator and it is in the other side of the world. Also we have one of the biggest facility for assemblage, testing and integration of satellites. Since India has recently opened its space development for space market, our space programme can cooperate being a partner for Indian institutions like ISRO and Indian industries to develop payloads and platforms for Latin America," de Nardin said.
Interaction with Indian scientists at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, the Raman Research Institute and the National Aerospace Laboratories in Bengaluru besides the IIT Madras Research Park in Chennai has helped Brazilian space officials become aware of details like “what are the needs of the customers when they are in the facility and what is the kind of transportation we need to bring in the satellite before the launch" which would help Brazil as it looked at commercial services at a future date, de Nardin said.
“We do not have big launchers we have launchers for payloads of upto 20-30 kilos. We just cannot put a satellite in orbit not yet. We are readying for that," he said.
“Brazil is the first client of ISRO. We have been cooperating with ISRO for a long time but this is the first commercial venture with ISRO. But also opens the space for cooperation with Latin America, it opens up the market there. And Brazil has the potential to be the door to this market. With our facilities, in cooperation ISRO we can help other countries reach space through the Brazilian base with Indian rockets. Why not?" he added.
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