Perry Chen,
Bridge to a Bad Star
, 2017

An investigation into the Alcântara Launch Center, Maranhão, Brazil, and the events of August 22, 2003.

Mission: Investigate the Alcantara disaster as both a historic event, and a lens to view wider issues. We will 'pull the string of the story, allowing the investigation and our questions to lead us multi-directionally. We will create a newsroom, outputting our investigation into two forms — a book and a website. Journalistic research, artistic output.

Conducted in São Paulo, Brazil over 6 days in April 2017. Released online and as an edition of 150 books by Meli-Melo Press, São Paulo, Brazil. By invitation of Mesa & Cadeira.

Perry Chen is an artist and the founder of Kickstarter. Learn more.


"On August 22, 2003 the Alcântara VLS accident happened. Besides destroying the third attempt to launch the prototype of Brazilian rocket into space, it also destroyed the Brazilian dream for space autonomy... The particularities of Alcântara accident, by its magnitude and complexity, led us to its oblivion. But, as the book reveals, it is not just an accident that has been exposed. It's a plot written with a puzzling combination of economic, social and cultural conflicts... The participants also made several interviews, both with the lawyer of the families of the victims in Alcântara, as well as common people to collect perceptions about the disaster. From each information received, Perry helped the Mesa to find a synthesis to be placed in the book, in order to make the readers find their own answers or doubts: without impositions or partiality just present the many possible visions of a common landscape." - Excerpt from FLAGCX, Brazil. See full review.


Alcantara, Alcântara (Portuguese), Alcántara (Spanish), Alcàntara, Alcàntera, El-Qantarah and (El) Kantara are all transliterations of the Arabic word al qantara (القنطرة), meaning "the bridge".

The word disaster comes from the Middle French désastre from the old Italian disastro, which comes from the Greek pejorative prefix dis– (bad; Gr: δυσ-) + aster (star; Gr: ἀστήρ). So disaster literally means "bad star". The sense is astrological, of a calamity blamed on an unfavorable position of a planet.

View Bridge to a Bad Star.

Contributors: Henrique Catenacci, Yago Cury, Olivia Yassudo Faria, Vicente França, Beto Galvão, Martin Giraldo, Lucas Lazaro, Rodrigo Machado, Barbara Magri, Isabella Nardini, Monica Nassar, Edson Pavoni, Giulia Puntel, Malu Rothier, Renata Simões, Senta Slingerland, Gabriela Terra, Cris Veit, Paula Vivas.

Image Credits: Sgt Rezende / Brazilian Air Force; VLS-1 V03 Accident Investigation Report; Felipe Goifman; Perry Chen; VLS-1 V03 Accident Investigation Report; VLS-1 V03 Accident Investigation Report; Reprodução / TV Mirante; Monica Nassar; Cris Veit; Bruno Santos / Terra; Agência Brasil; Vicente França; Ricardo Stuckert; João Baptista Lavanha and Luís Teixeira (Atlas Cosmografia, 1597 - 1612. Biblioteca Reale, Torino); André Cypriano; Sgt Batista / Brazilian Air Force; NASA; Giulia Puntel; NASA;; NASA; Djan Chu; Djan Chu.