The satellite was the fourth in a series designed to monitor land use in Brazil, including forest cover in the Amazon basin. Brazil’s space program is seeking to reduce the country’s dependence on U.S. and European space equipment and launch vehicles and expand the domestic aerospace industry, already the world’s No. 3 producer of commercial jet aircraft.
The government is also seeking to increase control over its long and largely unguarded land border and better manage forest, mineral, water and agricultural resources in its vast and thinly populated interior.
The CBERS-3 satellite developed by China and Brazil was carried to space on Monday morning aboard a Long March 4B rocket from China’s Taiyuan satellite launch center, the Brazilian ministry said in a statement.
“There was a failure in the launch vehicle during flight and the satellite was not positioned in the right orbit. Preliminary evaluations suggest CBERS-3 has returned to Earth,” it said.
The ministry said the causes are being investigated, and Brazil and China have agreed to speed up plans to launch the next satellite planned in the series, CBERS-4.
The misfire underscored Brazil’s desire to establish its own launch capabilities.
Brazilian planemaker Embraer SA and state telecom Telebras signed a deal last month to put a national defense and communications satellite in orbit for 1.3 billion reais ($560 million) by the end of 2016. The satellite will be built by French aerospace supplier Thales and launched by space-transport company Arianespace from French Guiana.
($1 = 2.3204 Brazilian reais)