Brazil will have to rely on imports to advance its space launch program. The VLS (Veiculo Lancador de Satelite) its planned space launcher has been delayed several years because Brazil needs help in vehicle guidance, propulsion, sensors, special materials, electronics and computers. Though Brazil has successfully tested its series of Sonda sounding rockets, it is counting on foreign supplies to overcome technology problems in the VLS.
Brazil “has limited capabilities in inertial navigation and vehicle control systems,” and “no capability in radio navigation,” according to a 1992 Pentagon study that ranks countries’ military capability. To advance, Brazil will need equipment like gyroscopes, accelerometers, radio navigation and direction finding systems.
Brazil also has “limited capability in liquid and solid propulsion systems,” according to the study. To advance in propulsion, Brazil would need electron beam and laser welding equipment, electro-deposition and electro-discharge equipment, and systems to control combustion burn rate and modulate thrust. Brazil is especially deficient in liquid rocket propulsion, and would need to import high-pressure turbo pumps, thrust chambers and nozzles.
In the area of sensors, the Pentagon report says Brazil has “no capability” in cameras or magnetometer technology. And it has only limited capability in radar. Brazil will need to import equipment such as integrated circuits able to operate over a wide temperature range, solid state microwave devices, frequency synthesizers, signal analyzers, waveform digitizers and network analyzers.
Brazil also needs to work on the special materials needed for advanced rocketry, such as dense alloys, ceramic composites and radiation absorbers. Relevant supplies would include: composites and laminates specially designed for rocket systems, carbon carbon billets, filament winding machines, and related production and testing equipment.
High-speed computers have become critical to modern rocket development. But according to the Pentagon study, Brazil has “no capability” in hybrid or advanced computing. Brazil will need computers and software for flight control, flight dynamics and communication networks as well as specially designed software for modeling, simulation or design integration of rocket systems.
From 1988 to 1992, according to a report by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), sensitive nuclear end-users in Brazil tried to buy more than $110 million dollars’ worth of U.S. computer equipment. They were unable to fill all their orders, but recent computer decontrols worldwide may have helped Brazil get some of what it needs.
electron beam welding equipment
composites and laminates
filament winding machines