Is Brazil Ending Cyclone-4 Program With Ukraine?

Cyclone 4 first and second stages. (Credit: Alcantara Space)
Cyclone 4 first and second stages. (Credit: Alcantara Space)

A report out of Brazil says President Dilma Rousseff is preparing to end the long trouble and repeatedly delayed Cyclone-4 program with Ukraine.

The story, written by Roberto Lopes, the opinion editor of the Journal of Defence Forces, quotes a sourcein the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Under a strategic partnership agreement signed in Oct. 2003, Ukraine is developing a more powerful version of the Soviet-era Cyclone-3 launch vehicle. Brazil is building the launch infrastructure at its Alcantara Launch Center. Work is being done through a joint venture, Alcantara Cyclone Space.

The inaugural launch from Brazil has been repeatedly delayed. The story reports that it was most recently pushed from 2015 to sometime next year.

Brazil has spent 1 billion reals ($309.5 million) on the program without seeing a single launch in 11.5 years, Lopes reports.

The breakdown of the deal would be another blow to Ukraine’s struggling space industry, which it inherited after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. It already has been hit hard by slow downs in the production of Zenit boosters for Sea Launch and the first stage of Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket.

The story reports that the cancellation of the Cyclone-4 project would improve relations with Russia, which was not pleased by the venture.

Several months ago, reports surfaced that Russia was in talks about basing the Sea Launch venture in Brazil. Sea Launch uses Ukrainian-build Zenit boosters to launch communications satellites from a mobile ocean-going platform.

More recently, however, there was an announcement that the Russian government would no longer purchase Zenit boosters from Ukraine.

Sea Launch is run by a subsidiary of RSC Energia, which is being absorbed into the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, under a consolidation of the nation’s space industry.