Brazil will launch its first own satellite to protect the transfer of privileged national security information while boosting the broadband capacity of the country later this month. The Geostationary Satellite Defense and Strategic Communications Satellite (SGDC) will be launched on March 21 from the Kourou Space Center in French Guiana. The event is taking place nearly a year after the original launch plan of April 2016.
The SGDC project got support from the Brazilian government after revelations around spying on Brazil through the US National Security Agency became public and national security concerns became a more serious matter. Until then, talks of building a satellite had been hampered by conflict of interest between government departments.
Primarily expected to guarantee the security of defense communications of the Brazilian Armed Forces and improve the inspection of Brazil's 17,000-kilometer border with ten South American countries, SGDC is also intended to improve the provision of broadband Internet services to remote areas across Brazil over an approximate 15-year time span.
Prior to the completion of SGDC, Brazil did not have satellites of its own and leased eight satellites operated by foreign companies. The construction of the first Brazilian satellite required a total investment of R$ 2.1 billion (US$672 million), more than double the original budget.
The equipment was built by Visiona, a joint venture between Brazilian aerospace firm Embraer and state-owned telecoms company Telebras and built by Thales Alenia Space and Arianespace in France. The process involved engineers and specialists from the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications (MCTIC), the Ministry of Defense and the Brazilian Space Agency in addition to Vision.