The successful launch of Brazil’s Amazonia-1 satellite by the Indian Space Research Organisation marks a new high point in space cooperation between the two countries that began nearly two decades ago, officials say.
The launch was witnessed by the visiting Brazilian Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Marcos Pontes, and the heads of the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) and the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) at Sriharikota on Sunday.
“This confirms the infinite potential of the [India-Brazil] partnership to overcome our development challenges through high technology,” Brazilian Ambassador Andre Aranha Correa do Lago told The Hindu , adding that the new satellite would “open the door for multiple business and governmental opportunities” and help “fulfil the environmental commitments of the Brazilian government” towards the Amazon rainforest.
Welcoming the news of the launch, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called it a “historic moment” in India-Brazil space cooperation.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said the first fully Brazilian made satellite, which would help to monitor the Amazon forests, was a mark of the “increasing investment” the country was making in science and technology.
The launch also marked the first dedicated mission of ISRO’s commercial arm NewSpace India Ltd. (NSIL).
The unique relationship between both countries has ensured support for each other’s satellites and the use of each other’s ground stations, including tracking India’s Chandrayaan-1&2 missions and the 2013 Mangalyaan Mars Orbiter Mission using Brazilian earth stations Alcantara and Cuiaba.
Brazil and India first signed an MoU between the Department of Space and AEB in March 2002, followed by a Framework Agreement in 2004, that is reviewed by a Joint Working Group (JWG). In 2007 they inked a special arrangement which allows Indian scientists access to Brazilian ground stations to remote sensing data from the Indian satellites.
In 2018, two officials from the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) joined an 8-week long training programme on nanosatellite building at ISRO, and in 2020, when President Bolsonaro visited India as the Republic Day guest, he and Mr. Modi agreed to intensify space cooperation as a priority area.
Apart from bilateral space cooperation, an official note said both countries are part of BRICS (Brazil-Russia-China-India-South Africa) cooperation on building a ‘Virtual Constellation of Remote Sensing Satellites’ to share remote sensing satellite data.
As The Hindu had reported last week, India has begun preparations for hosting the BRICS summit later this year, which, if it is held in person, would see President Bolsonaro visiting again, along with leaders of China, Russia and South Africa.