Marcos Pontes

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Marcos Cesar Pontes
Marcos Pontes.jpg
AEB Astronaut / Astronauta
Nationality Brazilian
Status Active
Born (1963-03-11) March 11, 1963 (age 52)
Bauru, São Paulo, Brazil
Other occupation
Fighter pilot
Rank Lieutenant-Colonel
Time in space
9d 21h 17m
Selection 1998 NASA Group
Missions Soyuz TMA-8, Soyuz TMA-7
Mission insignia
Soyuz TMA-8 Patch.png

Marcos Cesar Pontes (born March 11, 1963) is a Brazilian Air Force pilot and AEB astronaut. He became the first Brazilian and the first Lusophone to go into space when he launched into 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. He was married and had two children.

Early life[edit]

President Lula during a videoconference with Brazilian astronaut, Marcos Pontes.

Pontes was born in the town of Bauru, in the southeastern state of São Paulo.


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 for more than 2000 hours in 25 different aircraft. 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 Aeronatical Engineering division of the Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica (the Aeronautics Technological Institute, or "ITA"), which he transferred to in pursuit of a childhood dream to become an astronaut. He began NASA training in August 1998 and qualified as Space Shuttle Mission Specialist in December 2000.

Initially, Pontes' maiden spaceflight was scheduled to be on a Space Shuttle, where he was to help transport the ExPRESS Logistics Carrier (ELC), the International Space Station's first Brazilian-made component, into orbit. It was postponed due to delays in the completion of the ELC, and budgetary concerns at NASA. During the delay Pontes ran a campaign to hasten the Brazilian government to complete the ELC, and worked on technical assignments in the Astronaut Office Space Station Operations Branch at NASA. His flight was postponed indefinitely when all NASA flights were suspended in February 2003 after the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.

Astronauts Marcos Pontes and Jeffrey N. Williams (center), and cosmonaut Pavel V. Vinogradov, take a break from their training at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, days before their launch on a Soyuz spacecraft.

On September 2, 2005, an agreement which cost about US$20 million between the governments of Brazil and Russia 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 was signed by the presidents of the Brazilian and Russian space agencies, Sérgio Gaudenzi and Anatoli Perminov, respectively.

Pontes' flight coincided with celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont's successful flight of an fixed-wing airplane in Paris in October 1906.

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 for the development and fabrication of the Brazilian parts for the ISS. Pontes is on stand-by for training for future Brazilian space flights.


He went to the Naval Postgraduate School and many others too.


Marcos received the Air Force Meritorious Service and Santos Dumont medals.

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