Skip to main content
На сайті проводяться технічні роботи. Вибачте за незручності.

We are still among the best in the space industry

Government support for this field would protect the nation’s strategic security and defense interests
28 October, 10:28

Dnipropetrovsk is called the space and rocket capital of Ukraine. The city’s enterprises, Pivdenne Chief Design Bureau and Pivdenmash Pro­duction Association, have a unique po­ten­tial for innovative development. Govern­ment support for this field would protect the nation’s strategic security and defense interests and pro­mote the development of funda­men­tal and applied sciences.

Nevertheless, the leading companies of the space industry are expe­riencing hard times. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, they were able to integrate into the global space market, but a strong dependence on Russian sup­pliers and subcontractors has remained.

The most famous international pro­­ject with Ukrainian participation is likely the Sea Launch program. It started successfully in 1999, when Pivdenmash-produced carrier rockets Zenit-3SL started commercial satellite launches from a floating platform in the Pacific Ocean. Calculations showed that the Sea Launch would become profitable with five or six launches per year. In fact, this level could not be reached for several reasons, primarily because of the intense competition in the space services market. The project’s participants tried to diversify and reduce the cost of satellite launches by turning to a supplementary program called the Land Launch. It involves launching satellites from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur cosmodrome with two-stage carrier rockets Zenit-2SL. However, after a series of accidents, the main shareholder of the Sea Launch, American Boeing, decided to withdraw from the project. Russia’s Energia Rocket and Space Corporation offered to revive the program having bought 98 percent of the consortium’s shares via a subsidiary. According to Pivdenne, the project is in the process of reorganization at the moment.

It should be noted that the Zenit-3SL rocket was developed with Russian participation. In particular, the Rus­sian partners supply, among other things, boosters and DM-SL upper stage blocks.

Another well-known international program is the joint Ukrainian-Rus­sian project “Dnepr.” These Pivdenmash-made launchers are converted from strategic ballistic missiles SS-18 Satan which have been decommissioned by the Russian Federation’s armed forces. By the way, the remaining operational missiles of this class are still serviced by the Ukrainian enterprise within the framework of military-technical cooperation. Overall, four Ukrainian-produced rockets were launched successfully in 2013, including two Zenits and two Dneprs, which put into orbit 25 spacecraft from 16 countries. These launches and maintenance of military missiles earned mo­ney for the Dnipropetrovsk rocket-builders, but the figures have not been disclosed.

One may not say, though, that Pivdenne and Pivdenmash cooperate exclusively with their Russian partners. For instance, 2013 saw two successful launches of the American carrier rocket Antares, which delivers cargo to the International Space Station and one launch of the European carrier rocket Vega. In the first case, Pivdenmash supplied basic structures of the first stage for the Americans (according to the rocket-builders, it is actually the first stage of the Zenit rocket, which is then reengined with a Russian engine). In the second case, the Dnipropetrovsk plant built a small engine, weighing just 16 kilograms, for the European rocket.

In addition, cooperation between Ukraine and Brazil is continuing, aiming to launch Tsyklon-3 carrier rockets from an Alcantara equatorial cosmodrome. The first launch is scheduled for 2015, provided that financial and organizational issues are resolved by then.

It is worth recalling that our country is going to launch the first national communications satellite Lybid soon, which has been made with the participation of Canadian experts. The satellite will allow Ukraine to make annual sa­vings of 30 to 40 million dollars.

In general, the rocket-builders note that the world is witnessing a rapid development of the rocket and space ser­­vices market. At the current pace, its vo­lume may grow by the factor of seven between 2010 and 2025. Ukraine, taking into account the level of development of its space industry and its numerous know-hows in this field, has every reason and opportunity to be active and influential player in this market.

Delimiter 468x90 ad place

Subscribe to the latest news:

Газета "День"