By Dialogo July 22, 2011 Brazil plans to launch a geostationary satellite — GOES — that would connect all the country’s defense and security organizations and allow for more secure communications among them. In late June, Defense Minister Nelson Jobim announced that the satellite would be launched in 2014. The satellite will provide direct links between Brasília, the border platoons and submarines in the Atlantic Ocean, he said. It will also speed up the transmission of images from remote areas. Jobim, in a recent public hearing before the Brazilian Defense and Foreign Relations Commission, said the geostationary satellite is of vital importance for national security and will make Brazil self-sufficient in such matters. The hearing was especially important because of the presence of 10 senators who are also members of the Amazon and Border Sub-Commission — two areas that would benefit significantly from the new satellite, if all goes as planned. Borrowed images Currently, the Brazilian government leases satellite channels from a Mexican mobile phone group that sends the images per request and without exclusivity. This service costs around $28.3 million per year. “Today, when we want an image, the Mexicans send it to us in 36 hours,” Jobim said. Building, launching and maintaining Brazil’s new satellite will cost $443 million, but it also will link 1,800 isolated communities to the Internet for the first time. The Defense Ministry envisions GOES sending audio and images from remote locations to federal authorities, while permitting real-time communication with and among all branches of the Armed Forces and all units in mission — including those on foreign soil. “While Brazil has other satellites, none of them is under the control and for the exclusive use of the government,” said Defense Ministry spokesperson Roberta Belyse. “This satellite will have military transponders in Band X and transponders for government use in Band Ka.” What’s a GOES A geostationary satellite or GOES is anything but stationary. It actually circles Earth in the same direction and speed of the planet’s rotation; this way the satellite’s location is always above a specific spot on the globe. Since all geostationary satellites are positioned directly over the Equator, only a limited number of such satellites can be placed in orbit. They’re located in the geosynchronous plane about 22,300 miles above Earth, which offers an unobstructed view of the planet. GOES’ continuous monitoring is essential for intensive data analysis. Being fixed above a single point allows the satellites to chart atmospheric changes that precipitate tornadoes, floods, hurricanes and other severe weather conditions. Brazil’s space program began 50 years ago, making it the fourth country to enter the space race after the United States, the former Soviet Union and France. Even today, Brazil is one of the few countries with a comprehensive space program that includes the development of rockets, satellites and launching centers. Brazilians are, indeed, very proud of their space history. However, a recent study, Caderno de Altos Estudos, by the Senate’s Science, Technology, Communications and Informatics Commission, urged the government to invest more to keep pace with current needs, as well as with international partners. Between 2012 and 2016, Brazil plans to launch three satellites, the Cbers 3 and 4, for earth observation, and the Amazon 1. Total cost for all three launches: $200 million. Good neighbors share resources Jobim emphasized on how GOES will help Brazil collaborate with neighboring countries, particularly with respect to border security. “Some of the satellite’s capabilities would be shared with other nations,” said Jobim, who announced the plans for GOES in the context of a broader presentation to the commission of the government’s Strategic Border Plan. He also recounted his recent visit to Colombia, which resulted in the first steps towards a binational plan for border security between the two countries, with a focus on protection of the Amazon. The Brazilian military devotes significant efforts to protection of its rainforest, and satellite images are an invaluable resource. In early July, Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) released satellite images showing that 268 square kilometers of Amazon rainforest had been cut down in May 2011 — twice the amount of clearing as in May 2010. This follows reports that deforestation had increased to 593 square kilometers in March and April 2011 from 103 square kilometers in the same period a year earlier. “The GOES satellite would allow the sharing of security plans and real-time information of air, land and sea borders,” explained Belyse. In addition, she said, it will connect remote populated areas with emergency services and let them receive important government communications. In addition, these geostationary satellites serve other functions such as meteorological monitoring, feeding of GPS systems and provision of TV and mobile phone signals. Excellent information, today telematics will provide us with more security for our development on different socio-cultural level through geostationary satellites. I am sure that the Peruvian Government should take advantage of such benefits for the population. Hello, It’s a pleasure speaking with you, but I have a question. Why is Brazil so far behind in terms of security and technology?