Is really the end of Cyclone-4 program so close?

According to some Brazilian media, the country's Federal Government decided to terminate the international space program with Ukraine under Cyclone-4 rocket launches from Alcantara Launch Site.

In a news piece dated April 9 Folha de S.Paulo reported that, following an internal ministerial inspection of the program completed in January, the President Dilma Rousseff was going to cancel Cyclone-4 project. This news in English was rewritten by Russian Sputnik News agency.

Cyclone-4 artist concept. Credit: Yuzhnoye SDO
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The decision, Folha admits, has not been told to official Kiev yet, and no official information has been published neither at websites of governmental agencies of Brazil and Ukraine, nor at the website of Alcantara Cyclone Space (ACS), bi-national company assigned for the program implementation.

The latest news at ACS website, dated April 7, stated that in March 2015 "a whole set of Working Design Documentation for the Cyclone-4 Launch Site Ground Support Equipment had been delivered to ACS". This, according to the press-release, will enable ACS's specialists to prepare for installation and testing activities at Alcantara Launch Center.

Status of construction works at Alcanara Launch Site. Credit: ACS
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Furthermore, on the eve of the International Day of Human Space Flight, to be celebrated on April 12, Oleg Uruskyi, newly appointed Chief of the State Space Agency of Ukraine, drawing conclusions of 2014 and describing future plans, mentioned (in Ukrainian) Cyclone-4 among the national space industry's priorities.

Cyclone-4 is a third rocket in its rocket family, after Cyclone-2 and Cyclone-3. Cyclone-2 is famous for its unprecedented reliability. All 102 missions of the rocket, conducted from Baikonur, were successful. Contrary to some media, these rockets are not converted missiles, like Dnepr and Rockot, and were used for orbital launches only. Cyclone-4 adopts first and second stages of its predecessors and uses completely new upper stage able to carry up to 5.5 ton of payload to LEO and 1.4 ton to GTO.

Brazilian-Ukrainian cooperation initially was enthusiastically met by the market since the program matched complementation of partners' strengths. Highly reliable, low-cost, niche-market Ukrainian rocket was supported by perfectly located launch site in Brazil. Alcantara is only 2° below equator line, even closer to it than European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

Tests of Cyclone-4 launch equipment at Dneprotyazhmash plant. Credit: DTM
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The main point of the Brazilian party, according to media, is extremely high cost of the program. After nearly 12 full-of-troubles years, from Maranhao state (where Alcantara located) local tribe's opposition and ecological agencies' worries to political and economic crises both in Ukraine and Brazil, Cyclone-4 has already accumulated some 1 billion Brazilian reals ($320 million in current conversion rate) from Brazilian government only (Ukraine's contribution might be somewhere the same).

Folha is continuing Cyclone-4 criticism, stating that the program has never been competitive. Use of toxic fuel (Cyclone family of rockets used UDMH + nitrogen tetroxide) and lack of predicted commercial market demand are among the reasons the project was perceived as controversial among some of local and international public.

View on existing facilities at Alcantara Launch Center. Credit: ACS
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Despite all mentioned above, SpaceDigest suppose that there are still chances for the project to reincarnate. Until an official notice to Kiev, until an official news piece at a governmental website, or at least until any comments from anybody from the Federal government, the program has not been terminated. And likely Ms. Rousseff has not even made her final decision.

There have been always parties, both internal and external influentials, opposing this project, and it seems to be close that time when it would be officially unveiled whether those Folha de S.Paulo speculations were true or not.

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