VLM (rocket)


Veículo Lançador de Microssatélites
Veículo Lançador de Microssatélite.jpg
VLM-1 configuration
UseOrbital launch vehicle
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 2023 (planned)[2]
First stage – S-50
Powered by1 Solid
Maximum thrust~400 kN (90,000 lbf)
Specific impulse~277 s (2.72 km/s)
Burn time~60 seconds
Second stage – S-50
Powered by1 Solid
Maximum thrust~400 kN (90,000 lbf)
Specific impulse~277 s (2.72 km/s)
Burn time~60 seconds
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 Microssatélites) 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 2023.[2]

A version based on the S-50 rocket engine is being developed, with the objective of launching satellites of up to 150 kg into equatorial circular orbits at 300 km altitude.[3]

VLM-1 description

VLM-1 configuration

The VLM-1 vehicle is designed to deliver up to 150 kg (330 lb) payloads 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.[3] 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.[4]

  • Stage 1: S-50 rocket engine
  • Stage 2: S-50 rocket engine
  • Stage 3: S-44 rocket engine

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:

  • Stage 1: S-43 rocket engine
  • Stage 2: S-40TM rocket engine
  • Stage 3: S-44 rocket engine
  • Stage 4: S-33 rocket engine


VS-50 configuration

It was later decided in 2011 to build a precursor single-stage rocket bearing a new engine called S-50. The vehicle is being developed and its engine tested in collaboration with the German Space Agency (DLR).[1][5] This precursor test is called VS-50 and is planned for launch in 2023.[2] 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 conducted a first successful full burn test on land for 84 seconds of the S-50 engine as part of the final test campaign aiming to a complete operational VLM orbital launcher in 2025.[2][6][7]

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 engines 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:

  • Stage 1: S-50 rocket engine
  • Stage 2: S-50 rocket engine
  • Stage 3: L5 rocket engine (to be developed)

Other possibilities

Brazilian researchers have studied the possibility of a cost-competitive launch system using S-50 engines 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.[8]

Proposed flights

The qualification flight is VLM-1 (or XVT-00).[9]

# Vehicle Payload Date Launch site
1 VLM-1
Qualification NET 2023[2]
Alcântara VLS
2 VLM V-01 SHEFEX III 202x[9]
Alcântara VLS

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. ^ a b c d e "Successful static firing test with DLR involvement". DLR. 7 October 2021. Retrieved 19 October 2021.
  3. ^ a b "VLM-1". Brazilian Space Agency (in Portuguese). 6 March 2020. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  4. ^ Messier, Doug (7 October 2020). "Brazil Plans Launch of Brazilian Orbital Rocket from Brazilian Soil in 2022". Parabolic Arc. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "Teste do motor S50 foi um sucesso". Brazilian Space Agency (in Portuguese). 1 October 2021.
  7. ^ "Brasil dá passo decisivo em preparação para lançar microssatélites à órbita da Terra". Valor (in Portuguese). 1 October 2021.
  8. ^ A Brazilian Space Launch System for the Small Satellite Market
  9. ^ a b Krebs, Gunter (2 January 2020). "VLM". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 8 October 2020.

External links