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Brazil wants to move up CBERS-4 launch

CBERS-3, being readied in China just weeks before its launch: a total loss

INPECBERS-3, being readied in China just weeks before its launch: a total lossINPE

As partners in the launching of Earth observation satellites since 1999, Brazil and China are now discussing the feasibility of moving up the assembly and launch of CBERS-4 (China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite), following the failed launch of CBERS-3 on December 9, 2013. The Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MCTI) would now like to put the new satellite in orbit by late 2014 or mid-2015. Under the original schedule, CBERS-4 was set for launch only in December 2015. The dates were discussed during a meeting of the CBERS program coordinating committee in Beijing, China, where the causes of the CBERS-3 failure were also on the agenda. The satellite was propelled into space by the Chinese rocket Long March 4B at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in China, but a malfunction of the third and final stage of the launch vehicle kept it from entering orbit. According to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), the thruster on the Chinese rocket shut down 11 seconds before the scheduled time, preventing the satellite from reaching the minimum speed necessary to stay in orbit. Equipped with four cameras that were to collect images of the Earth’s surface, CBERS-3 was supposed to monitor natural disasters and detect changes in plant cover, thereby gleaning information that could be used in combating deforestation and burn-offs in the Amazon. CBERS-3 would have been the fourth satellite put in orbit by the program, replacing CBERS-2B, which completed its work in 2010. Since then, the Sino-Brazilian program has had no satellites to produce images. The Brazilian government invested R$160 million in the project, according to INPE.