Could Ukraine Help Brazil Get to Space?
Ukraine knows how to build rockets. Since 1951, the Ukrainian city of Dnipro has been home to the Yuzhnoye Design Office - specializing in rockets. During Soviet times, Dnipro (then Dnipropetrovsk) had even been referred to as "Soviet Rocket City" by Western media
Photo Universe Today
In a meeting today in Japan with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky suggested Brazil and Ukraine reignite stalled space plans.
Brazil has long wanted to launch rockets for itself rather than hire others to do it.
It constructed the Alcantara Launch Center along Brazil’s northern Atlantic Coast for that very reason. Because of its location near the equator, Alcantara is an ideal spot for launching satellites into geostationary orbit (the kind of satellites that stay put instead of changing locations).
However, Brazil ran into a number of problems when it tried developing its rockets. It ultimately decided to seek outside help back in 2003 after an explosion and fire destroyed a Brazilian-made rocket, killing 21 people.
Ukraine knows how to build rockets. Since 1951, the Ukrainian city of Dnipro has been home to the Yuzhnoye Design Office – specializing in rockets. During Soviet times, Dnipro (then Dnipropetrovsk) had even been referred to as “Soviet Rocket City” by Western media.
Back in 2005, Ukrainian authorities said rocket engineering specifications had been handed over to Dnipro to begin making parts to launch rockets with Brazil. The first launch of the Cyclone 4 from Alcantara was planned for 2006. But then a series of political crises in Ukraine stalled financing and a frustrated Brazil called it quits.
Now, Zelensky has a case to make that this time would be different.
A World Bank report, released this month raised Ukraine’s GDP forecast from 2.7 percent to 3.4 percent, with the growth rate set to bump up to 3.7 percent in 2020 and to reach 4.2 percent in 2021, Business Ukraine reported.
The IMF recently updated its Ukrainian GDP growth forecast for 2019 from 2.7 percent to 3 percent, while Morgan Stanley upgraded its GDP expectations for the country to 3.2 percent in 2020 and 3.6 percent in 2021.
The optimism is also having a positive effect on Ukraine’s credit ratings. In September, leading international ratings agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor’s both upgraded Ukraine from a “B-“ to “B.”
While skepticism remains whether the president’s peace plan in the Donbas region will be successful, positive economic forecasts are largely attributed to the strong performance in the first half of 2019 and the Zelensky administration’s ambitious reforms’ agenda.
While it remains to be seen whether future Ukrainian-Brazilian cooperation will ultimately be in space, the two heads of state seemed bullish about future economic cooperation.
“Brazil is our main trading partner in Latin America. I welcome the expansion of Brazilian companies in Ukraine and Ukrainian ones in Brazil,” Zelensky said. “We will have large-scale privatization. We represent a lot of projects, which show that it is profitable to invest in Ukraine. I am firmly convinced that we really need to build strong relations between Ukraine and Brazil.”
Bolsonaro invited Zelensky to Brazil and agreed to visit Kyiv next year.