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Cablegate: Brazil: Recovery of a Fallen Space Object

VZCZCXRO2150
RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHBR #0525/01 1091830
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 181830Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1460
RUWCAAA/SMC LOS ANGELES AFB CA
INFO RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 1907
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 6036
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 7926

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BRASILIA 000525

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR OES/SAT, L/OES

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TSPA SENV KSCA BR
SUBJECT: BRAZIL: RECOVERY OF A FALLEN SPACE OBJECT

1. (U) THIS CABLE IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED AND NOT FOR
INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.

2. (SBU) On April 14, the Ministry of External Relations' (MRE)
Director of the Division for the Sea, Antarctica and Space,
Counselor Bernardo Paranhos Velloso, informed the Embassy's
Environment, Science and Technology (EST) Counselor (EST) that the
Government of Brazil (GOB) had an object that had fallen from outer
space. They believed that it was an object that had been launched
into space by the United States. Embassy understands from various
reports that this object is most likely a Composite Overwrap
Pressure Vessel (COPV), which fell from space in late March and
landed in Goias, Brazil. Velloso said that the object has been, or
soon will be, turned over to the Brazilian National Space Research
Institute (called INPE).

3. (SBU) Embassy had earlier heard reports of the object and
provided Velloso with a copy of the UN "Agreement on the Rescue of
Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects
Launched into Outer Space," (the "UN Agreement") to which Brazil and
the United States are both parties.

4. (SBU) On April 15, Velloso sent Embassy Environment, Science and
Technology (EST) Counselor a message via e-mail (see informal
translation below) regarding the space object. The message asks the
United States to identify the object as one belonging to the United
States. The day before on April 14, Velloso had told EST Counselor
that the costs involved in picking up the object in Brazil and
returning it to the United States would have to be borne by the USG.
Further, he said that the returning of the object would be a good
event to highlight in the press. It would show good cooperation
between the USG and GOB under a UN agreement. He thought that the
two sides could issue a joint press release.

5. (SBU) COMMENT. The Embassy strongly supports trying to recover
the object. It would set a good precedent for future such
incidents. Moreover, this would help both sides strengthen their
space cooperation relationship. END COMMENT.

--------------------------------------------- ---
6. (SBU) TEXT OF MESSAGE (INFORMAL TRANSLATION)
--------------------------------------------- ---

Brief Introductory Note on the Legal Aspects related to an Object
from Outer Space that Fell on Brazilian Territory

The case concerning an object that fell from outer space in the
Brazilian state of Goias shall be regulated under the Agreement on
the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and Return of
Objects Launched into Outer Space, concluded in London, Washington
and Moscow on April 22, 1968 and that entered into force
internationally on December 3, 1968.

Brazil approved the agreement under Legislative Decree number 80,
dated December 4, 1972 and ratified it on January 31, 1973. The
instruments of accession were deposited in London, Washington and
Moscow on February 27, 1973. In Brazil, the Agreement entered into
effect on February 27, 1973 (Article 7, paragraph 4), having been
promulgated by Decree number 71,989 of March 26, 1973 and published
on March 27, 1973.

According to Article 5, Brazil shall notify the launching authority
and the Secretary-General of the United Nations that the space
object fell on the country's territory. Obviously, this
notification can only take place if there is previous and reliable
information regarding the presumed launching authority.

This is what is established under Paragraph 1 of Article 5: "Each
Contracting Party which receives information or discovers that a
space object or its component parts has returned to Earth in
territory under its jurisdiction or on the high seas or in any other
place not under the jurisdiction of any State, shall notify the
launching authority and the Secretary-General of the United
Nations."

The launching authority, upon request of the return of the space
object, shall give information regarding the identification of the
object, in order for there be no doubts about its ownership of the
object and the component parts.

About this issue, the third paragraph of Article 5 says: "Upon
request of the launching authority, objects launched into outer
space or their component parts found beyond the territorial limits
of the launching authority shall be returned to or held at the
disposal of representatives of the launching authority, which shall,
upon request, furnish identifying data prior to their return."

BRASILIA 00000525 002 OF 002

The expenditures resulting from the obligations mentioned in the
Agreement shall be paid by the launching State respecting paragraph
5 of Article 5: "Expenses incurred in fulfilling obligations to
recover and return a space object or its component parts under
paragraphs 2 and 3 of this article shall be borne by the launching
authority."

It is important to mention that, in respect to Article 6 of the
Agreement, the term "launching authority", used under this
instrument, corresponds to the "State responsible for launching the
object", a concept defined in the 1967 Space Treaty and, later on,
in the Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by
Space Objects, of 1972, and in the Convention on Registration of
Objects Launched into Outer Space of 1965.

Thus, the United States, which presented itself as the launching
authority, should provide data that proves that the space object
found in Brazil was, in fact, launched by it, including information
reported to the United Nations during the time period the object was
launched.

The transparent and public return of the object would be an
opportunity to make clear Brazil's commitment to the Rule of Law
regarding space activities.

SOBEL

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