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Marcos Cesar Pontes (born March 11, 1963) is a Brazilian Air Force pilot, engineer, AEB astronaut and author. He became the first South American and the first Lusophone to go into space when he docked onto the International Space Station aboard Soyuz TMA-8 on March 30, 2006. He is the only Brazilian to have completed the NASA astronaut training program, although he switched to training in Russia after NASA's Space Shuttle program encountered problems. After Jair Bolsonaro's victory as President of Brazil in 2018, Pontes was officially nominated to be Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, a post which he accepted days later.
|Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation|
|Assumed office |
January 1, 2019
|Preceded by||Gilberto Kassab|
Marcos Cesar Pontes
March 11, 1963
Bauru, SP, Brazil
|Political party||PSL (Since 2018) |
|Occupation||Fighter pilot, astronaut|
|Branch/service||Brazilian Air Force|
Time in space
|9d 21h 17m |
|Selection||1998 NASA Group|
|Missions||Soyuz TMA-8, |
Missão Centenário, Soyuz TMA-7
Pontes was born in the town of Bauru, in the southeastern state of São Paulo. His father Vergílio was a civil servant of the Instituto Brasileiro do Café and his mother Zuleika was clerk of the Rede Ferroviária Federal (RFFSA).
Air Force and Space careerEdit
Pontes is one of the most experienced jet pilots in the Brazilian Air Force (FAB), where he holds the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and has flown more than 2000 hours in 25 different aircraft[clarification needed]. In June 1998, he was selected by the Brazilian Space Agency to train in the NASA space program after he acquired a space-related background in the Aeronautical Engineering division of the Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica (the Aeronautics Institute of Technology, or "ITA"). He began NASA training in August 1998 and qualified as Space Shuttle Mission Specialist in December 2000. He attended the Naval Postgraduate School of the US Navy in 1998.
Initially, Pontes' maiden space flight was scheduled to be on a Space Shuttle, where he was to help transport the ExPRESS Pallet, which would have been the International Space Station's first Brazilian-made component, into orbit. Negotiations between NASA and AEB (the Brazilian Space Agency) fell through due to budgetary concerns. During the delay, Pontes ran a campaign to pressure the Brazilian government to complete the Express Pallet, and he worked on technical assignments in the Astronaut Office Space Station Operations Branch at NASA. His flight was postponed indefinitely when AEB confirmed that it could not produce the Express Pallet and its components for NASA.
On September 2, 2005, an agreement between the governments of Brazil and Russia was reached which provided for Pontes to train at Star City, near Moscow, to learn about the Soyuz's operational and life-support systems, and to fly to the International Space Station in March 2006. The agreement, which cost about US $20 million[clarification needed] was signed by the presidents of the Brazilian and Russian space agencies, Sérgio Gaudenzi and Anatoli Perminov, respectively.
On March 30, 2006, Pontes became the first Brazilian and the first native Portuguese-speaking person to go into space, where he stayed on the International Space Station for a week. During his trip, Pontes carried out eight experiments selected by the Brazilian Space Agency. He landed in Kazakhstan on April 8, 2006, with the crew of Expedition 12.
Following the Soyuz mission, Pontes returned to his technical duties for the International Space Station Program at the Johnson Space Center, working with FIESP/SENAI-SP on the development and fabrication of the Brazilian parts for the ISS.
Pontes entered the reserve of the Brazilian Air Force and awaits a new space mission. He is also an Invited Researcher at the Institute for Advanced Studies of the University of São Paulo at São Carlos. He is an ambassador of UNIDO and WorldSkills. Pontes opened an educational foundation and a tourism agency together with the future Brazilian space tourist Marcos Palhares, who will be traveling to space through the Virgin Galactic.
In his 2011 book Missão Cumprida, he also declared that he is interested in a possible candidacy for an unspecified political post in Brazil and he tried to be elected as "Deputado Federal" during the 2014 São Paulo gubernatorial election. In the 2018 São Paulo gubernatorial election he was elected side with Major Olímpio as second alternate in the Senate.
In October 31, Jair Bolsonaro announced that he would be the next Minister of Science and Technology. This choice left the scientific community with polarized opinions, ranging from how the public sees the profession of astronaut in connection with science and the fact that the minister is not an active scientist and researcher, in addition to concern about his lack of political articulation.
Investigation by the Military ProsecutorEdit
In 2006, Pontes was investigated by the Military Prosecutor to determine whether he had violated Article 204 of the Military Penal Code, which prohibits active military involvement in any commercial activity. In September 2017, documents were released by The Intercept newspaper and showed alleged membership of the company Portally Eventos e Produções. In August 2018, after the investigation had already prescribed, the appeal was filed by the Minister Rosa Weber.
Besides his work as an astronaut and Air Force commander, Marcos also authored four books:
- 2011 - É Possível! Como Transformar seus Sonhos em Realidade ("It's Possible! How to Make Your Dreams Come True")
- 2011 - Missão Cumprida: A História da Primeira Missão Espacial Brasileira ("Mission Accomplished: The History of the First Brazilian Space Mission")
- 2012 - O Menino do Espaço ("The Space Boy")
- 2015 - Caminhando com Gagarin ("Walking with Gagarin")
He also writes articles on his website. The main themes are motivation and space travel.
Pontes in the Zvezda service module
Marcos received numerous awards through his career.
|Order of Aeronautic Merit||Brazilian Air Force|
|Santos-Dumont Merit Medal||Brazilian Air Force|
|Bronze Military Medal||Brazilian Air Force|
|Silver Military Medal||Brazilian Air Force|
|Tiradentes Medal||Military Police of the Federal District|
|Academy of the Air Force Award||Academy of the Air Force|
|Aerial Shot Award||3/10 Aviation Group, Brazilian Air Force|
|First Place Award||Officer Improving School - University of the Airforce (UNIFA)|
|Honorable Mention - Department of Mathematics||Technological Institute of Aeronautics|
|Honorable Mention - Department of Mechanics and Orbital Flight||Technological Institute of Aeronautics|
|Honorable Mention - Department of Structure||Technological Institute of Aeronautics|
|First Place Award||Course and Preparation in Flight - Institute of Aeronautics and Space, Brazilian Air Force|
|77th Greatest Brazilian of All Time||SBT|
|Honorary Member||Bauruense Academy of Letters|
|Personality of the Decade - 50 Years of Brasília||Center of Business and Cultural Integration, São Paulo (CICESP)|
|Título "Defensor Emérito da Liberdade, Informação e Comunicação"||São Paulo Press Association|
|Commander of the Great Cross - Order of Cultural and Civic Merit||Brazilian Society of Heraldics and Humanism|
|Literary Order of Merit Medal||Federation of Academies of Letter and Arts of São Paulo|
|Personality of the Decade, Order of Merit of Juscenlino Kubitschek||Center of Business and Cultural Integration, São Paulo (CICESP)|
|Dom Marcos Pontes no âmbito interno do Sodalício||Brazilian Society of Heraldics and Humanism|
|Personality of the Decade, Order of Merit of Juscenlino Kubitschek||Brazilian Academy of Honours to Merit (ABRAHM)|
|Commander of the Order of Rio Branco in Official Degree||Ministry of Foreign Affairs|
|National Order of Merit||Federal Government of Brazil|
|Chancellor-Mor of the National Order of Merit of Aeroespacial Aviation and Navigation||Brazilian Society of Heraldics and Humanism|
|Custus Vigilat Medal||Municipality of Bauru|
|Título Mérito Legislativo em Educação||Legislative Assembly of Amapá|
|Citizen of Pederneiras||Municipality of Pederneiras|
|Citizen of São José||Municipality of São José dos Campos|
|Citizen of Curitiba||Municipality of Curitiba|
|Citizen of Sorocaba||Municipality of Sorocaba|
|"Milton Martins Merit"||Parauapebas Municipal Chamber|
|Asteroid 38245 Marcospontes||Cristóvão Jaques - International Astronomical Union|
|Hero of the Russian Federation||Russian Federation|
|Yuri Gagarin Medal||Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center|
|UNO Ambassador for Industrial Development - UNIDO||United Nations Industrial Development Organization|
|World Ambassador of Professional Education||WorldSkills International||2008|
|Ambassador for Scientific and Technologic Education in Brazil||FIRST Foundation|
|Distinct Graduation||Naval Postgraduate School (US Navy)|
|Commander of Peace of Reserve Forces||International Committee for Peace|
|Blue Beret Honoris Causa||United Nations|
|Prize Galactic Patrol||World Embassy of Peace, Geneva Embassy, Switzerland|
|"Castillo De Oro"||Military School of Aviation "Tgral. German Busch", Bolivia|
|"Aeronautic Merit - Great Master of the Order"||Bolivian Air Force|
|Honorary Member||Astronomic Network of Colombia|
|International Personality - Golden Medal||French Academic Society of Arts, Science and Letters|
- "Astronaut Biography: Marcos Pontes". www.spacefacts.de. Retrieved Aug 28, 2019.
- Gonçalves, Carolina (October 28, 2018). "Bolsonaro confirma quatro ministros para seu governo" (in Portuguese). Agência Brasil. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
- "Astronauta Marcos Pontes diz que aceitou convite para ser ministro de Ciência e Tecnologia" (in Portuguese). G1. October 30, 2018. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
- "Fundação Astronauta Marcos Pontes - Biografia". Retrieved Aug 28, 2019.
- Emerson Kimura (2009). "Made in Brazil O Brasil na Estação Espacial Internacional" (in Portuguese). Gizmodo Brazil. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
- "G1 > Brasil - NOTÍCIAS - Brasil está fora do projeto da Estação Espacial (ISS)". g1.globo.com. Retrieved Aug 28, 2019.
- Rohter, Larry (Apr 8, 2006). "Brazil's Man in Space: A Mere 'Hitchhiker,' or a Hero?". Retrieved Aug 28, 2019 – via NYTimes.com.
- "Webpage Astronauta Marcos Pontes - Atividades Atuais". www.marcospontes.com. Retrieved Aug 28, 2019.
- "Fundação Astronauta Marcos Pontes". Retrieved Aug 28, 2019.
- "Agência Marcos Pontes Turismo de Aventuras para a Vida". Agencia Marcos Pontes. Retrieved Aug 28, 2019.
- "Marcos Palhares - Escritor de Aventuras, Palestrante e Empresário". MARCOS PALHARES: PALESTRANTE, EMPRESÁRIO, ESCRITOR, EXPLORADOR, AVENTUREIRO. Retrieved Aug 28, 2019.
- Salvador Nogueira (2006). "Pontes quer fazer segundo vôo em 2009" (in Brazilian Portuguese). Folha de S. Paulo. Retrieved 26 June 2019.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
- Efeito Tiririca: partidos apostam em candidatura de famosos para as eleições de outubro. http://noticias.bol.uol.com.br. Acesso em 28/07/2014
- "Paulistas elegem Major Olímpio e Mara Gabrilli para o Senado". Senado Federal. 2018-10-07.
- "Bolsonaro anuncia astronauta Marcos Pontes para Ciência e Tecnologia - Notícias - Política". Política.
- "Um ministro em órbita". Agência Pública.
- "Cinco ministros já anunciados por Bolsonaro são ou foram alvo de investigação" [Five ministers already announced by Bolsonaro are or have been investigated]. O Povo Online. November 22, 2018. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
- "Webpage Astronauta Marcos Pontes - Livros Publicados". www.marcospontes.com. Retrieved Aug 28, 2019.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Marcos Pontes|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Marcos Pontes.|
- NASA website biography of Pontes
- Brazil, Russia Agree To Send Brazilian Cosmonaut To Space
- Brazil's President In Moscow Signs Deal For Joint Space Mission
- Spacefacts biography of Marcos Pontes
- Air Force Technological Institute (ITA)
- Brazilian Space Agency
- Marcos Pontes' official website (in Portuguese)
- Research developed in the USA through the Brazilian Air Force
- Marcos Pontes at TEDxHouston 2013
| Minister of Science, Technology,
Innovation and Communications