Brazil: Origins - the road to space
In 1957, the International Geophysical Year, two students from the Technical Institute of Aeronautics (ITA) in São José dos Campos, in the Brazilian province of São Paulo, wrote a letter to the US Naval Research Laboratory. Fernando de Mendonça and Julio Alberto de Morais Coutinho wanted to install a device to monitor the signals from the Vanguard Project satellites that were developed at that time. The Naval Research Laboratory accepted their proposal and a Minitrack station was set up in São José dos Campos with the aid of the Institute of Research and Development (IPD), which, like ITA, formed a part of the Brazilian Aeronautics Technical Center (???). The students had the Minitrack station ready when the Soviet Union astonished the world by launching the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, on 4th October 1957. Within a week, Mendonça and Coutinho had adapted the Minitrack station to monitor Sputnik’s transmissions. In January 1958, they were also able to receive the signals from the first American artificial satellite, Explorer-1.1 Mendonça and Coutinho can so be associated with all the people who developed Brazil’s national space research, from the very beginning.
KeywordsSpace Activity Synthetic Aperture Radar International Space Station Naval Research Laboratory Artificial Satellite
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