Brazil Missile Milestones – 1945-2003

1945: Brazil establishes the Aeronautical Technical Center for space research and rocket development.

1965: Sonda rocket development begins; first two rockets provide experience in testing thermal protections, propellants, aerodynamic configurations and electronics.

1976: First launch of the Sonda-III rocket.

1979: General Hugo de Oliveira Piva, a former CTA (Centro Tecnico Aeroespacial) (Aerospace Technical Center) head and Orbita vice president, makes his first trip to Iraq, beginning more than a decade of cooperation on aerospace and missile development.

1984: First launch of the Sonda-IV rocket.

1989: Brazil launches a VLS (Veiculo Lancador de Satelite) prototype.

1990: President Collor reveals the existence of Brazil’s secret nuclear weapon program; U.S. approves the export to Brazil of Brazilian rocket casings heat-treated in the United States, despite evidence of Brazil’s cooperation with Iraq.

1991: Brazil signs agreement with Argentina to allow mutual inspection of sensitive nuclear facilities.

1994: Brazil and Argentina sign the Treaty of Tlatelolco to create a nuclear weapon-free zone in Latin America.

1995: Brazil joins the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

1995: The United States determines that Russia has sold Brazil carbon fiber technology for use in rocket motor cases.

1997: The first launch of the VLS-1 rocket ends in failure when one of the four solid propellant rocket boosters fails to ignite.

1998: It is reported that the CTA is developing test benches for liquid-propelled rocket motors with the assistance of Russian scientists.

1999: The second launch of the VLS-1 ends in failure as the second stage engines fail to operate properly.

1999: Brazil and Ukraine sign an agreement to cooperate on space research.

2003: The third VLS rocket explodes when one of the engines accidentally ignites on the launch pad, days before its expected launch, killing 21 engineers and technicians.

2003: President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva vows to continue the space launch effort, and to successfully launch a rocket into orbit by the end of his term in 2006.

2003: Brazil and Ukraine sign an agreement to develop infrastructure at Brazil’s Alcantara launch pad sufficient to launch Ukraine’s Cyclone 4 rockets.

2003: President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva agrees that Brazilian firm Avibras will sell an estimated US$400 Million worth of goods, mainly missile launchers, to the United Arab Emirates.