May 20 2008
Congratulations to Brazil! Last week the Wall Street Journal (5/13/08) headlined that, “Brazil Joins the Front Rank of New Economic Powers!” Finally joining the surging, emerging “BRIC” group — Brazil, Russia, India, China — Brazil has added a robust currency to its already world-class power in agriculture and natural resources. Although growing at only 5% (not yet at stratospheric Chinese levels), Brazil has become a “growth engine” for the global economy, and is so cash rich it enjoys a new $ 125 B plan to stimulate Brazilian high-tech industries and exports.
In this blog I speak often of an expected Sputnik-like shock materializing near 2013 possibly led by China and other dynamic space powers who will announce their plan for the large-scale development and colonization of space (see International Space -Wave Guide 5). Brazil’s association with BRIC suggests they would be well-positioned contenders for such a group as we ramp up to the 2015 Maslow WIndow.
Brazil has Latin America’s most prominent space program including their own launch vehicles, environmental and communication satellites (some in cooperation with China), and their enviable Alcantara launch site (within 2 degrees of the equator)! In 2006, the first Brazilian astronaut — Marcos Pontes — after training with NASA, ascended on a Russian Soyuz rocket for a $ 10.5 M, week-long stay on the International Space Station. Colonel Pontes’ instant celebrity power exceeded even the best soccer stars that Brazil has to offer, and gave him access to the Brazilian president and a prominent association with Brazilian comic books and toys! However, in typical pre-Maslow Window style, some Brazilian scientists and journalists suggested the $ 10.5 M could have been better spent elsewhere.
In 1992 writing in Space Policy, I suggested that Rio de Janeiro would be an ideal headquarters city for a new global space organization that we forecast will form by 2014. Today it seems even more appropriate considering Brazil’s likely pivotal role in the rapidly approaching international race to space.