Veículo Lançador de Satélites
FunctionOrbital launch vehicle
Country of originBrazil
Height19.5 m (64 ft)
Diameter1.01 m (3.3 ft)
Mass50,700 kg (111,800 lb)
Payload to low Earth orbit
Mass380 kg (840 lb)
Launch history
Launch sitesAlcântara VLS Pad
Total launches2
Notable outcome(s)1 (pad explosion in 2003)
First flight2 November 1997
Last flight11 December 1999
Boosters – S-43
No. boosters4
Powered by1 solid rocket booster
Total thrust303 kN (68,000 lbf)
Specific impulse225 s (2.21 km/s)
Burn time59 seconds
First stage – S-43TM
Powered by1 solid rocket booster
Specific impulse277 s (2.72 km/s)
Burn time58 seconds
Second stage – S-40TM
Powered by1 solid rocket booster
Specific impulse275 s (2.70 km/s)
Burn time56 seconds
Third stage – S-44
Powered by1 solid rocket booster
Specific impulse282 s (2.77 km/s)
Burn time68 seconds

The VLS-1 (Portuguese: Veículo Lançador de Satélites) was the Brazilian Space Agency's main satellite launch vehicle.[2] The launch vehicle was to be capable of launching satellites into orbit. The launch site was located at the Alcântara Launch Center[3] due to its proximity to the equator.

Associated vehicles include the Sonda I, Sonda II, Sonda III and Sonda IV, the VS-30, VS-40 and VSB-30.

The VLS was cancelled after decades of development and high expenditures with poor results and a failed association with Ukraine that slowed the program for years.[4][1]


VLS-1 development started in 1984, after the first launch of the Sonda IV rocket. To date, three prototypes have been built and two launches attempted, departing from the Alcântara Launch Center. During the V1 and V2 prototype launches (VLS-1 V1 and VLS-1 V2) technical problems prevented mission success, but allowed the testing of several vehicle components. The V3 prototype exploded on the launch pad on 22 August 2003, two days before its intended launch date. The 2003 Alcântara VLS accident caused a considerable setback to the Brazilian space program. The V4 prototype was expected to be launched in 2016.[5]

The project was terminated by Brazilian Space Agency in 2016.[6]

The Departamento de Ciência e Tecnologia Aeroespacial (DCTA) (Department of Aerospace Science and Technology) and the Agência Espacial Brasileira (AEB) (Brazilian Space Agency) informed on public audience before the VLS-1 project ended by the Senado Federal (Federal Senate) on February 16, 2016.[citation needed]

VLS-1 schedule

Initial flight test schedule

# Photo Vehicle Payload Date Place Result
1 VLS-R1 - 1985 December 1 CLA Failure, apogee of 10 km.
2 VLS-R2 - 1989 May 18 CLA Apogee of 50 km.
3 VLS-1 V1 SCD-2A 1997 November 2 CLA in-flight failure
4 VLS-1 V2 SACI 2 1999 December 11 CLA in-flight failure
Vls 1 v03.jpg
VLS-1 V3 SATEC 2003 CLA pad explosion on 2003 August 22

Final schedule

The V04 prototype was originally scheduled for launch in 2006. Further testing has resumed in 2008. The final VLS-1 schedule was as follows:[7]

# Photo Vehicle Payload Date Place Result
mockup electrical tests with a mockup rocket[8][9] 2012 CLA - Success
2 VLS-1 XVT-01 VSISNAV only first two stages active 2016 CLA canceled
3 VLS-1 V-04 satellite launch 2018 CLA canceled

VLS Configurations

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VLS-R1 test vehicle (1985)

The VLS-R1 test vehicle had two stages, arranged in the following configuration:

VLS-R2 test vehicle (1989)

The VLS-R2 test vehicle had two stages, arranged in the following configuration:

VLS-XVI 01 sub-orbital test vehicle (2016, planned)

The VLS-XVI 01 sub-orbital test vehicle has three solid fuel rocket stages and boosters, arranged in the following configuration:

VLS-1 operational configuration (2018, planned)

The VLS-1 has three solid fuel rocket stages and boosters, arranged in the following configuration:

The rocket has four 400N RCS jets, located on the top of the third stage.



Main article: VLM (rocket)

The VLM (Veículo Lançador de Microssatélites) based on the S50 rocket engine is being studied, with the objective of orbiting satellites up to 150 kg in circular orbits ranging from 250 to 700 km. It will be a three-stage rocket, expected to launch the SHEFEX III mission by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in 2023.[10][11][12]

"Cruzeiro do Sul" (Southern Cross) program

VLS Alfa

In the framework of the proposed Cruzeiro do Sul program,[13] the VLS-1 rocket is the basis of the VLS Alfa project.

L5 rocket based configuration - three-stage rocket, with the upper stage being liquid-fuel, putting 200 to 400 kg satellites into low equatorial orbits:

L75 rocket based configuration - two-stage rocket, with the upper stage being liquid-fuel, putting 500 kg satellites equatorial orbits up to 750 km:

# Photo Vehicle Payload Date Place Result
1 VLS Alfa XVT-01 - 2015 - -
2 VLS Alfa XVT-02 - 2016 - -
3 VLS Alfa V-01 - 2017 - -
4 VLS Alfa V-02 SARA Orbital 2018 - -
5 VLS Alfa V-03 - 2020 - -

VLS Beta

The VLS Beta is another related project, intended to lift up to 800 kg payloads to an 800 km equatorial orbit. Its first flight was planned for 2020.[15][16]

Three-stage rocket, with the upper two stages being liquid-fuel.

Projected flights are:[10]

# Photo Vehicle Payload Date Place Result
1 VLS Beta XVT-01 - 2018 - -
2 VLS Beta XVT-02 - 2019 - -
3 VLS Beta V-01 - 2020 - -

VLS Gama

The VLS Gama is intended to carry up to 1000 kg payloads to an 800 km polar orbit. Three-stage liquid-fuel rocket.

VLS Delta

The VLS Delta is capable of placing 2000 kg payloads in a geostationary orbit. Three-stage liquid-fuel rocket (VLS BETA body) with two solid fuel boosters.

VLS Epsilon

The VLS Epsilon is capable of placing 4000 kg payloads in a geostationary orbit. Three-stage liquid-fuel rocket (VLS BETA body) with two liquid-fuel boosters.


See also


  1. ^ a b jornaldosindct.sindct.org.br https://web.archive.org/web/20160816173922/http://jornaldosindct.sindct.org.br/index.php?q=node%2F615. Archived from the original on 2016-08-16. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ "Veículo Lançador de Satélites (VLS)". Brazilian Space Agency. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
  3. ^ CLA - Centro de Lançamento de Alcântara Alcântara Launch Center. Retrieved on 2012-03-06. (in Portuguese).
  4. ^ "Problemas de "Governança" e Gestão Explicam em Parte Extinção do VLS-1".
  5. ^ Saiba como está o projeto Veículo Lançador de Satélite (VLS) Brazilian Air Force. Retrieved on 2012-03-06. (in Portuguese).
  6. ^ "VLS". space.skyrocket.de. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  7. ^ a b c http://www.aeb.gov.br/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/PNAE-Portugues.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  8. ^ Revista AEB 10[permanent dead link] Brazilian Space Agency. Retrieved on 2012-03-06. (in Portuguese).
  9. ^ "Brazil: IAE Conducts VLS Qualification Tests – Parabolic Arc".
  10. ^ a b Brazilian space plans: 2011-2015 nasaspaceflight.com. Retrieved on 2012-03-06.
  11. ^ "Brazilian Space". Brazilianspace.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
  12. ^ "VLM: veículo lançador de microsatélites, launch vehicle for SHEFEX-3". German Aerospace Center (DLR). Retrieved 2013-05-24.
  13. ^ "IAE - Página inicial".
  14. ^ http://www.aeb.gov.br/download/revista/RevistaAEB_n13.pdf[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ "Brasil planeja lançar foguetes ao espaço nos próximos anos; veja cronograma" (in Portuguese). Terra.
  16. ^ "Acesso autônomo ao espaço - Onde o Brasil quer chegar" (in Portuguese). SindcCT.
  17. ^ "IAE - Página inicial".