Brasilia's government strengthens position as New Delhi's preferred South American partner in space industry and technology

Brazil expands strategic alliance with India to balance China's influence

PHOTO/India Presidency - Together with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is guest of honour at the Republic Day parade in New Delhi on 26 January 2020.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has further strengthened his privileged personal relationship with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as the two leaders cement their nations' alliance with their first major joint success. 

The milestone that sealed the India-Brazil strategic partnership was the recent launch of Brazil's Amazonia-1 government observation satellite into orbit using an Indian PSLV launcher, the first time Brasilia has eschewed Beijing's rockets in favour of those from New Delhi. 

Amazonia-1 is the first space platform entirely designed and built by Rio's industry and Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE), headed by Professor Clezio Marcos De Nardin. Located at an altitude of 752 kilometres, it is a high-resolution electro-optical satellite that has been developed. It is designed to combat deforestation, enforce reforestation plans, monitor biodiversity and preserve the water resources of the huge South American country, especially the Amazon rainforest.  

El Amazonia-1 ha sido desarrollado durante una docena de años en el Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Espaciales (INPE) de Brasil. Sus primeras imágenes se descargaron y procesaron el 3 de marzo en el Centro de Recepción, Control y Seguimiento de Satélites que la Agencia Espacial Brasileira (AEB) posee en São José dos Campos, a 350 kilómetros de Río de Janeiro

The satellite was sent into space on February 28, and by March 3 the first images had already been downloaded and processed at the Brazilian Space Agency's Satellite Reception, Control and Tracking Centre in São José dos Campos, 350 kilometres from Rio de Janeiro. 

Brazil's Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Marcos Pontes, witnessed the liftoff from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Control Centre run by Dr Kailasavadivoo Sivan at the Satish Dhawan base in Sriharikota, in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

El teniente coronel retirado de la Fuerza Aérea y primer y único astronauta brasileño que ha viajado al espacio, Marcos Pontes fue elegido por Jair Bolsonaro para dirigir el Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación
Guest of honour at the Day of the Republic

Pontes is a retired lieutenant colonel of the Brazilian Air Force and the first and only Brazilian astronaut to have travelled into space. This happened in late March 2006, when he left for the International Space Station in a Russian Soyuz capsule and stayed in the orbital complex for eight days. 

After the launch, Marcos Pontes met with the Brazilian minister responsible for space affairs, Jitendra Singh, to explore new avenues of cooperation between the two countries. According to the Brazilian minister, the successful launch of Amazonia-1 into space leads to a "very promising" partnership with India and represents a "new impetus" for the Brazilian space programme.  

El lanzador indio PSLV despegó el 28 de febrero desde la base espacial de Satish Dhawan, en Sriharikota (estado de Andhra Pradesh) para colocar a 752 kilómetros de altura el satélite gubernamental de observación brasileño Amazonia-1

The new stage of bilateral relations between the South American giant and the Asian power was consolidated 14 months ago, when President Jair Bolsonaro - an artillery captain and retired paratrooper - was the guest of honour at the annual Republic Day parade, a commemoration held in New Delhi every January 26. The Brazilian president arrived in the Indian capital accompanied by a large entourage of ministers and businessmen to strengthen economic and geopolitical ties and to reinforce ties between the two countries. 

The Indian and Carioca political authorities evaluated the results of the agreements signed in 2006 and signed fifteen new agreements to improve and expand trade relations. These include enhanced cooperation in security and defence, especially in the field of space, where the two countries are very active. 

They agreed to use the Brazilian Agency's satellite control stations in Alcántara and Cuiabá to improve the tracking of Indian satellites, increase the reception and processing of data and images from its observation platforms, and collaborate in the Chandrayaan-3 lunar robotic mission and the Gaganyaan manned missions that India has planned.

El científico Kailasavadivoo Sivan (en el centro de la mesa) es desde enero de 2018 el máximo responsable de la Organización de Investigación Espacial de India (ISRO), la Agencia Espacial del gran país asiático
A large Sino-Brazilian satellite family

Jair Bolsonaro is trying to reduce Brazilian economic dependence on China. He intends to restore Brazil's balance of payments by boosting bilateral trade with New Delhi, whose trade volume is around a tenth of that with Beijing. 

However, the Brazilian government believes that in a couple of years it is possible to reach an annual trade volume of 15 billion, given that India's population is well over 1.3 billion and Brazil's is over 200 million. In order to strengthen their mutual interests in the space industry, the two countries have identified the space sector as "a very important area of collaboration", says a joint communiqué. 

However, cooperation in space matters between Brazil and China is much closer than that with India. Brasilia and Beijing signed an agreement in 1988 to develop, build and operate high-bandwidth, high-precision optical platforms under The China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellites (CBERS) Program. 

El ministro Marcos Pontes presenció el despegue desde el Centro de Control de ISRO en la base espacial de Satish Dhawan. Después se reunió con su homónimo indio para explorar nueva vías de cooperación entre los dos países

A joint project between the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) and Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE), six of these satellites have already been launched into orbit. They were all launched by Chinese rockets between 1999 and 2019 and only two of them remain active at an altitude of about 770 kilometres. 

The first space relations between India and Brazil date back to 2002 and the launch of Amazonia-1 by a PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) originated from an agreement signed in mid-July 2014 between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. This meeting between the two politicians took place during the sixth BRICS summit at the Alvorada Palace, the official residence of the Brazilian presidents.