On Tuesday Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro visited US President Trump in Washington. The visit, of course, generated much press here in Brazil, and in the US as well. Amidst all the hoopla, the two presidents hammered out several agreements, all of which can be found here. Among said agreements is this one:
Now, there is only one facility for launching rockets into space here in Brazil, and that is the Alcântara Launch Center…and I can almost see the ALC from my house.
Now, avid readers of this blog may remember seeing the name “Alcântara” before. That’s because the city of Alcântara is home to a wonderful historical district which I have visited several times.
So what does this mean for Brazil and the US? Well, for starters, its proximity to the equator makes the ALC ideal for launching satelite-bearing rockets. This has to do with the amount of fuel needed.
Today, after 20 years of negotiations, Brazil and the US have signed a TSA that facilitate the launching of American satellites from the Brazilian launch center in Alcântara, near the equator. Launching from this site may save as much as 30% in fuel. #Alcântara https://t.co/kH4werjS2M
— Renata Knittel Kommel (@RenataKKommel) March 19, 2019
So what happens because of this treaty? Basically two things: 1) US companies will, in essence, rent the Alcântara base, using it to launch commercial satelites, and 2) NASA and the Brazilian space agency (AEB). There are also safe-guards in place to protect American technology.
The reaction of Brazilians has been varied.
Estou gostando muito disso! O encontro dos presidentes Bolsonaro e Trump foi histórico e pode marcar o início de uma nova fase otimista da economia brasileira. Espero que nossa ciência e tecnologia ganhem uma boa alavancada com esse acordo #Alcantara pic.twitter.com/H8c2Qso7Y9
— Shmuel (@camesamaa) March 20, 2019
Translation: I like this a lot. The meeting between presidents Bolsonaro and Trump was historic, and could mark the beginning of a new, optimistic phase for the Brazilian economy. I hope our science and technology get a good advancement from this agreement.
Um foguete contra a soberania nacional. Por sua vontade, Bolsonaro entregaria logo a base de Alcântara e seu em torno no Maranhão para os EUA. Incrível esse acocoramento sem sequer exigir contrapartidas. #Alcantara #entreguismo https://t.co/YvZYi3QLeu
— Chico Alencar (@50ChicoAlencar) March 19, 2019
Translation: This is a rocket against national sovereignty. If he had his way, Bolsonaro would hand over the Alcântara base and the surrounding area to the US. This bowing without requiring anything in return is incredible.
So what will this mean for our region and ministry here in Brazil? For the moment, I can only see positives, two of which could directly impact our work:
1) The influx of American business doing business at Alcântara will mean an up-tick in the local economy. This will mean more jobs available to those in our churches, which in turn will mean more economic independence for the churches themselves.
2) American business will bring Americans. This will raise awareness for our area (we are currently not well-known, even among other regions of Brazil), put our own English-speaking skills in demand, and could even open ministry opportunities of an international scope.
Personally, I’m very excited about this proposition, and sincerely hope it is more than just nice words on some paper.
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