Alcântara Launch Center

The Alcântara Launch Center (Portuguese: Centro de Lançamento de Alcântara, CLA) is a satellite launching facility of the Brazilian Space Agency in the city of Alcântara, located on Brazil's northern Atlantic coast, in the state of Maranhão.[2] It is operated by the Brazilian Air Force (Comando da Aeronáutica). The CLA is the closest launching base to the equator. This gives the launch site a significant advantage in launching geosynchronous satellites, an attribute shared by the Guiana Space Centre.

Alcântara Launch Center

Centro de Lançamento de Alcântara
Location of the Alcântara Launch Center
Airport typeMilitary: Air Force Base and Spaceport
OperatorBrazilian Air Force
Brazilian Space Agency
LocationAlcântara, Maranhão,
In use1989 - present
Elevation AMSL148 ft / 45 m
Coordinates02°22′23″S 44°23′47″W
Direction Length Surface
m ft
09/27 2,600 8,530 Asphalt
Sources: CLA Airport Info[1]

Construction of the base began in 1982. The first launch occurred on February 21, 1990, when the sounding rocket Sonda 2 XV-53 was launched.[3] On August 22, 2003, the explosion of the third VLS-1 (XV-03) killed 21 people.[4]

There are also plans to launch several international rockets from Alcântara. In 2003 contracts were signed to launch Ukrainian Tsyklon-4[5] (as of December 2009 planned to be launched by the end of 2010[2]) and Israeli Shavit[6] rockets; In addition there are further plans to launch the Russian Proton rocket.[7] In the beginning of 2018, Brazilian government offered the possibility to use the spaceport to several U.S. companies.[8]


  • Engine preparation facilities (Preparação de Propulsores - PPP)
  • Payload preparation facilities (Preparação de Carga Útil - PPCU)
  • Liquid-fuel loading facilities (Preparação de Carregamento de Propelentes - PCPL)
  • Universal launch tower
  • Mobile Integration Tower (TMI - Torre Móvel de Integração): 33x10x13m, 380tons. Used for assembly of the VLS rockets.
  • Control center (Prédio de Controle Avançado - CASAMATA).
  • 2600m runway

List of launchpads

The Alcântara launch pads include:

Launch List

21 February 1990Sonda 2 XV-53Alcântara Ionosphere101 km
26 November 1990Sonda 2 XV-54Manival Ionosphere91 km
9 December 1991Sonda 2 XV-55Aguas Belas Ionosphere88 km
1 June 1992Sonda 3 XV-24Aeronomy282 km
31 October 1992Sonda 2 XV-56Ponta de Areia Ionosphere32 km
22 March 1993Sonda 2 XV-57Maruda Ionosphere102 km
2 April 1993VS-40 PT-01VS-40 Test950 km
19 August 1994Nike OrionMALTED/CADRE Ionosphere140 km
20 August 1994Nike OrionMALTED/CADRE Ionosphere140 km
24 August 1994Nike OrionMALTED/CADRE Ionosphere140 km
25 August 1994Nike OrionMALTED/CADRE Ionosphere140 km
9 September 1994Black BrantIonosphere250 km
21 September 1994Black BrantIonosphere250 km
23 September 1994Nike TomahawkIonosphere270 km
23 September 1994Nike TomahawkIonosphere270 km
24 September 1994Nike TomahawkIonosphere270 km
24 September 1994Nike TomahawkIonosphere270 km
6 October 1994Black BrantIonosphereFailure (250 km)
14 October 1994Black BrantGuará H.Alt Spread F Ionosphere956 km
15 October 1994Black BrantIonosphere250 km
28 April 1997VS-30 XV-01VS-30 Test128 km
2 November 1997VLS-1 V01VLS-1Destroyed during launch
21 March 1998VS-40VS-40 Test900 km
15 March 1999VS-30 XV-04Operação San Marcos128 km
11 December 1999VLS-1 V02SACI-2Destroyed by range safety (10 km)
6 February 2000VS-30 XV-05Lençóis Maranhenses148 km
21 August 2000VS-30/Orion XV-01Baronesa315 km
23 November 2002VS-30/Orion XV-02Piraperna Ionosphere434 km
1 December 2002VS-30 XV-06CumãFailure (145 km)
22 August 2003VLS-1 XV-03SATECFailure (2003 Alcântara VLS accident)
23 October 2004VSB-30 XV-01Cajuana Test100 km
23 October 2004VSB-30 V01VSB-30 Flight Test259 km
19 July 2007VSB-30 V04Cumã II242 km
29 May 2009[11]OrionMaracati 193 km
10 August 2009Basic Training RocketFogTrein I[12]
12 December 2010[13]VSB-30 V07Maracati 2242 km (successful; payload recovered)
8 December 2012VS-30/Orion V10Iguaiba[14]
23 May 2013Basic Training RocketOperação Falcão 1[15]
9 May 2014Intermediate Training RocketOperação Águia 1[16]
1 September 2014VS-30 V13Operação RaposaTest of the L5 (Estágio Líquido Propulsivo (EPL))
liquid fuel rocket engine.[17][18] 3m34s flight time.[19]
12 September 2018VS-30 V14Operação MUTITI120 km[20]
Source: Astronautix[21]


  • Operação Santa Bárbara I - 2014, VLS-1 mockup
  • Operação Santa Bárbara II - 2015, VLS-1 VSISNAV

See also

  • Rocket Launch Sites Worldwide


  1. CLA Airport Info
  2. Brazil, Ukraine to launch rocket together in 2010, UNIAN (December 3, 2009)
  3. "SONDA II". AEB. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  4. "Maior acidente do Programa Espacial Brasileiro completa 13 anos". G1. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  5. President of Ukraine signs Decree on measures to ensure realization of Ukrainian-Brazilian project of creating space rocket complex "Cyclone - 4"
  6. "Launchers" by Tim Furniss, 26 August 2003, Flight International
  7. Interfax: Russia & CIS Defense Industry Weekly, 21 May 2010
  8. Reuters: U.S. space companies aim to help Brazil rocket base lift off
  9. Home Archived 2014-04-22 at the Wayback Machine
  10. Project Status Archived 2015-10-03 at the Wayback Machine
  11. Xinhua: Brazil launches rocket to test launching base Xinhua. Retrieved on 2009-05-30.
  12. "CLA dá início à Operação FogTrein I - Tribuna do Maranhão". Archived from the original on 2014-04-27. Retrieved 2014-04-26.
  13. Brazil launches mid-sized rocket Archived December 15, 2010, at the Wayback Machine FoxNews. Retrieved on 2010-12-15.
  14. VS-30 Orion
  15. "Centro de Alcântara lança foguete de treinamento". Agência Brasil. Archived 2014-05-12 at the Wayback Machine
  16. "Foguete de Treinamento é lançado com sucesso em Alcântara (MA)". Agência Espacial Brasileira. Archived from the original on 2016-02-22. Retrieved 2014-05-12.
  17. "Atividade espacial no país foi debatida em reunião no CLA | Agência Espacial Brasileira". Archived from the original on 2016-02-22. Retrieved 2014-05-25.
  18. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-02-22. Retrieved 2014-08-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. "Astronautix: Alcantara Chronology and Launch Log". Archived 2003-09-01 at the Wayback Machine

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