An initial series of motor-ignition ground tests for Brazil’s VLS rocket has been successfully concluded, constituting a “decisive milestone” in the program’s development, PyroAlliance of France announced Sept. 23.

PyroAlliance, a subsidiary of SNPE Group, is under contract to Brazil’s Aerospace Technology Center, CTA, to provide expertise on pyrotechnical systems following the August 2003 launch-pad accident that killed 21 people when a VLS solid-rocket motor accidentally ignited.

PyroAlliance is working under a 16-month contract valued at 4.45 million euros ($6.54 million) signed in November 2008. A second contract tranche is expected to continue the collaboration until the rocket’s successful test flight.

In addition to work on the strap-on boosters, PyroAlliance is also providing assistance on the pyrotechnical separation of the first stage.

PyroAlliance, which performs similar work on Europe’s heavy-lift Ariane 5 and future Vega small-satellite launch vehicles, hopes to leverage the work in Brazil for other launch vehicles worldwide. The company is able to guarantee its customers that its equipment and technology is “ITAR-free,” meaning not subject to U.S. technology-export legislation.