I was looking at a map of historic hurricane travel the other day and noticed that South America doesn't really get them. Florida gets a lot of hurricanes. Texas gets them too. It also occurred to me that Florida gets a lot of thunderstorms. Using weather patterns as a primary criteria, would South America be an ideal place to launch rockets?


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Bad weather much milder than hurricanes and thunderstorms can still stop a launch. As described in this answer and probably several others, even a bit of lightning in the distance can stop a launch, as well as a bit of wind on the ground, or stronger winds at higher altitudes. Even something simple like visibility is discussed in this answer and probably others as well.

From this answer I received a link to the image below. There's no info on wind, but clear days (meaning no storms at least) are maximum on the west coast, which may offer some limited opportunities for polar launches but no over-the-ocean prograde (eastward) launches to modest inclinations.

The East coast has plenty of places for both eastward (low inclination) and southerly launches (polar) so yes, I think you might find good launch sites there, but you'll need to find a location with plenty of low wind days.

Then you will have to build the infrastructure for fueling, and either transporting or building the rockets locally.

enter image description here

Source: ESA (from here)


From Ars Technica:

Brazil may become a hub in aerospace. Brazil wants to attract launch customers by marketing itself as the cheaper alternative to Kourou, the European spaceport in neighboring French Guiana. Aerospace titans Boeing and Lockheed Martin visited the Alcântara Launch Center in December, Reuters reports. The Brazilian space agency also seeks to attract smaller firms with its equatorial location.

Security agreement needed ... For now, Brazil's aim of becoming a launch site may depend on negotiating a technology safeguards agreement with the United States to protect sensitive American space launch and satellite technology. (Such an agreement is required to launch American-made rockets). The safeguard accord could be ready this year if the US State Department gets negotiating permission. (submitted by Alex)

Alcântara Launch Center From Google Maps:

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ There are some nice green and blue spots in South America $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 12, 2019 at 4:38
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    $\begingroup$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distribution_of_lightning shows some coastal areas with low lightning occurrences. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 12, 2019 at 4:39
  • $\begingroup$ @takintoolong yes indeed. Lightning and thunderstorms are probably fairly frequent in Florida, where there's obviously quite an active launch schedule. It's not a deal-breaker, but simply goes into the overall evaluation. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jan 12, 2019 at 4:46
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    $\begingroup$ I know it is not a deal breaker. Florida being a peninsula is also an advantage. My question is IF we use weather as a primary factor, does the weather in South America have advantages over Florida weather. In other words...would you prefer the weather in South America somewhere vs. hurricanes and thunderstorms. The more I look at it Natal and Recife in Brazil seem to have some pretty good weather patterns. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 12, 2019 at 4:51
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    $\begingroup$ the biggest launch site in South America is Kourou, French Guyana, and that looks to be in a red zone. $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Commented Jan 12, 2019 at 8:16

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