Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro was standing alongside his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, on Friday to highlight bilateral economic ties when he also announced Brazil’s intention to create a state-run space agency.
“If we build it, Brazilians will come,” Bolsonaro said.
Experts said the plan to establish a national space agency would add to the global space race, but its biggest beneficiaries may be rural Brazilians who would receive Internet connectivity via satellite. The plan would also enable Brazil to better monitor deforestation and protect the Amazon region, which is slated to lose the majority of its forests before 2030.
“What we have to offer the rest of the world is guaranteed access to information,” Bolsonaro said. “This is why I’m proud that Brazil’s space agency will be Brazilian.”
Brazil is the only Latin American country that is not party to the U.S.-led treaty that helped establish the International Space Station and the two countries’ agreement to cooperate on such issues. However, experts said the Space Agency could assist Brazil to compete with countries like the United States, China and Russia.
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“Given that for years we have engaged in talks with all these countries to improve our space, and that we have not had any action in that area, this project is absolutely in keeping with that spirit,” Mauricio Amaral, head of the space agency, said.
Amaral said the satellite project would be completed within 10 years, with $330 million in funding from two federal and three state governments. The funds will fund the start of construction and the launch of the first satellite. Brazil’s space agency began seeking private investment in October, which the president’s office said is its way of opening up the satellite project to the world.
In 2016, former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff selected 26 large Brazilian companies to a consortium to build the first commercial satellite. The decision, however, was reversed.
On Friday, Bolsonaro praised the agreement to share plans for the space agency and pointed to the two leaders’ efforts to help improve relations with the country’s neighbors. Bolsonaro said he was hopeful for better relations with the U.S. and insisted that the nearly half of the Amazon forest that will still be standing in 2027 would be bigger than the area of Texas and its surrounding states.
“We must all work together to change the reality of destruction and the death of the forest,” he said.
Read the full story at The Associated Press.
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