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VLS-1 (eículo Lançador de Satélites 1) was the first attempt of Brazil to develop an orbital launch vehicle.

The vehicle was based on the S-40 series of solid fuel rocket motors developped for the Sonda-4 sounding rocket. The first stage consisted of four S-43 rocket motors clusstered around a S-43TM motor, which acted as second stage. The third stage, a S-40TM motor, was topped by a shorter S-44 motor.

During development, two subscale experimental vehicles, VLS-R1 and VLS-R2, were launched to test the stage one separation. Also the third and fourth stage were tested in flight by the VS-40 sounding rocket.

Later, the first two stages were to be topped with a liquit fueled stage to form the VLS-Alfa launch vehicle. Also a smaller VLM rocket was considered, consisting only of the core stages with a smaller upper stage, but this was replaced by a new designed VLM-1 rocket.

VLS-1 launches began with a complete vehicle with real payloads. The maiden flight in 1997 failed, when one of the four stage one motors failed to ignite. The second mission in 1999 ended with a failure of stage two. A third flight was planned in 2003, but this vehicle exploded during launch preparations three days before the planned launch, killing 21 people and destroying the launch pad.

After this disaster, the development only continued very slow-paced. It was planned to continue flight testing with the two stage suborbital VSISNAV (XVT-01) vehicle and then another satellite launch attempt, but in early 2016, the VLS-1 program was terminated in favor of focusing on the VLM-1 orbital launch vehicle under development in collaboration with the German DLR. Also the VLS-Alfa might continue.

Version Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4
VLS-1 4 × S-43 S-43TM S-40TM S-44
VSISNAV 4 × S-43 S-43TM Dummy Dummy
VLS-Alpha 4 × S-43 S-43TM L-75 -
VLM S-43 S-40TM S-44 S-33
Performance (kg) LEO LPEO SSO GTO GEO MolO IP
VLS-1 380 250 80 - - - -
VLS-Alpha 250 - - - -
VLM 100 67 18 - - - -
Nr TypeNr  Serial     Vehicle         Date              LS         Payload

 6    1    V01        VLS-1           02.11.1997     F  Al VLS     SCD 2A
 8    2    V02        VLS-1           11.12.1999     F  Al VLS     SACI 2
(9)  (3)   V03        VLS-1          (22.08.2003)    F% Al VLS     SATEC / UNOSAT 1


Flight 1:    One Strap-On failed to ignite
Flight 2:    Second Stage failed
Flight (3):  Pre-launch ignition and explosion of one booster, 21 people killed, launch planned NET 25.08.03

Launch sites:

Al  = Alcantara Space Center (CLA), Brazil Brazil

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