Veículo Lançador de Microssatélites
VLM-1 configuration
FunctionOrbital launch vehicle
ManufacturerInstitute of Aeronautics and Space
Country of origin Brazil
Height19.6 m (64 ft)
Diameter1.45 m (4 ft 9 in)
Mass28,000 kg (62,000 lb)
Payload to LEO
Mass150 kg (330 lb) to 300 km[1]
Launch history
StatusIn development
Launch sitesAlcântara Space Center
First flightNET March 2027[2]
First stage – S-50
Powered by1 Solid
Maximum thrust450 kN (100,000 lbf)[3]
Specific impulse~277 s (2.72 km/s)
Burn time82 seconds[3]
Second stage – S-50
Powered by1 Solid
Maximum thrust450 kN (100,000 lbf)[3]
Specific impulse~277 s (2.72 km/s)
Burn time82 seconds[3]
Third stage – S-44
Powered by1 Solid
Maximum thrust33.24 kN (7,470 lbf)
Specific impulse282 s (2.77 km/s)
Burn time68 seconds

The VLM (Veículo Lançador de Microsatélites) is a proposed three-stage satellite launcher being developed by the Brazilian General Command for Aerospace Technology in collaboration with Germany. The project originated in 2008 as a simplified version of the VLS-1 rocket, using only the core stages. The first launch is currently planned for no earlier than 2027.[4]

A version based on the S-50 rocket motor is being developed, with the objective of launching satellites of up to 150 kg into equatorial circular orbits at 300 km altitude.[5]

VLM-1 description

The VLM-1 vehicle is designed to deliver up to 150 kg (330 lb) to a 300 km equatorial circular orbit.[1] VLM-1 is projected to have a total mass of 28,000 kg (62,000 lb), including 10 tons of propellant.[5] The first two stages will use the S-50 solid fuel engine, with the third using the same S-44 engine as in the VS-40 sounding rocket.[6]

Launches will be from the Alcântara Launch Center, located at the equator. There are plans to expand this design into the VLX launcher family, by adding liquid fuel upper stages or strap-on boosters.

Development history

Development on VLM started in 2008 for the purpose of low-cost and reliable launch of microsatellites, based on existing Brazilian sounding rockets like the VS-40 and technology developed for the VLS-1 project.[1]

Initially, a four-stage rocket using solid fuel was proposed, arranged in the following order:


Main article: VS-50

In 2011 it was decided to build a precursor single-stage rocket bearing a new motor called S-50. The vehicle is being developed and its motor tested in collaboration with the German Space Agency (DLR).[1][7] This precursor test is called VS-50.[3] The VS-50 vehicle measures 12 m (39 ft) long, 1.46 m (4 ft 9 in) in diameter, and has a mass of about 15 tons.[1] All launches are planned to take place from the Alcântara Launch Center, located on Brazil's northern Atlantic coast.

On 1 October 2021, the Brazilian Space Agency successfully conducted the first full static fire test of the S-50 motor, lasting 84 seconds.[4][8][9][10]

VLX family

When the VLM design and tests are completed to satisfaction, it is planned to develop a larger rocket family called VLX, targeting the delivery of payloads of between 300 and 500 kg to low Earth orbit.[1] The VLX family will include two launchers named Aquila 1 (for delivery of 300 kg to 500 km) and Aquila 2 (for delivery of 500 kg to 700 km into a polar orbit).[1] An early concept calls for two lateral S-50 motor configured as strap-on boosters.[1] A new liquid fuel engine, called L-75, is being designed for this launcher family.[1] As of 2018, it was hoped that the maiden flight of Aquila 1 would take place in 2023, and that of Aquila 2 in 2026.[1]

Planned versions

In the future, the L5 liquid fuel rocket engine will replace the solid 3rd stage engine. The configuration will be:

Other possibilities

Brazilian researchers have studied the possibility of a cost-competitive launch system using S-50 motors in the first two stages and a set of liquid engines in the third stage. This system operating from the Alcântara Launch Center could insert satellites weighing up to 500 kg into polar orbits with a transport cost of approximately US$39,000 per kilogram of payload.[11]

Proposed flights

The qualification flight is VLM-1 (or XVT-00).[12]

# Vehicle Payload Date Launch site
1 VLM-1
Qualification NET 2027
2 VLM V-01 SHEFEX III 202x[12]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Caiafa, Roberto (10 December 2018). "Novos lançadores de satélites e nova empresa espacial para Alcântara (AEB)". Tecnologia & Defensa (in Portuguese). Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  2. ^ Nogueira, Salvador (2023-11-11). "20 anos após tragédia de Alcântara, Brasil segue longe de ter lançador próprio". Folha de S.Paulo (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 2024-02-17.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Programa Nacional de Atividades Espaciais (PNAE)".
  4. ^ a b "Successful static firing test with DLR involvement". DLR. 7 October 2021. Retrieved 19 October 2021.
  5. ^ a b "VLM-1". Brazilian Space Agency (in Portuguese). 6 March 2020. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  6. ^ Messier, Doug (7 October 2020). "Brazil Plans Launch of Brazilian Orbital Rocket from Brazilian Soil in 2022". Parabolic Arc. Archived from the original on 10 November 2022. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  7. ^ de Selding, Peter B. (4 January 2018). "Brazil says ground test of micro-satellite launcher developed with Germany to occur this year". Space Intel Report.
  8. ^ "Teste do motor S50 foi um sucesso". Brazilian Space Agency (in Portuguese). 1 October 2021.
  9. ^ "Brasil dá passo decisivo em preparação para lançar microssatélites à órbita da Terra". Valor (in Portuguese). 1 October 2021.
  10. ^ Drăgan, Otilia (2021-10-11). "Brazil Just Tested Its Largest Rocket Motor Ever, for Experiments at Hypersonic Speeds". autoevolution. Archived from the original on 2023-12-28. Retrieved 2023-12-28.
  11. ^ "MDPI - Publisher of Open Access Journals". www.mdpi.com.
  12. ^ a b Krebs, Gunter (2 January 2020). "VLM". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 8 October 2020.

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