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16:26 PM Thursday, April 19, 2018
Industry
Ukraine’s Space Giants Win Big Canada Contract
Dnipro-based firms to supply rockets for Canada’s new rocket launch base
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KYIV – Ukraine’s aerospace giants Yuzhmash and Yuzhnoye Design Office have agreed to supply rockets to launch satellites into space from a new spaceport to be built in eastern Canada. This tracks with a trend of Ukraine industry of replacing traditional Russian partners with new Western ones.

“For Yuzhmash and Yuzhnoye, it is a huge business opportunity with strong potential,” Alona Andriienko, a Kharkiv-based program manager for Maritime Launch Systems, Ltd. or MLS, the company building and operating the new Canadian spaceport, told the UBJ. “It can bring a lot of work and money here to Ukraine.”

Yuzhnoye Design Office designs Ukraine’s satellites and rockets. Yuzhmash builds them.

They will provide rockets for MLS, a joint venture of three American firms. MLS plans to start construction next year of a $148 million spaceport in Nova Scotia and to launch satellites as early as 2020.

The project is good news for the Ukrainian firms, coming on the heels of the freeze of a $335.4 million Ukrainian communications satellite launch, once set for Kazakhstan’s Baikonur cosmodrome, a facility controlled by Russia’s military.

MLS announced last week it had chosen a site in eastern Nova Scotia for the spaceport. MLS is targeting the medium-class launch market, a segment they believe is underserved. Within five years, they hope to launch up to eight rockets a year. Each would carry a payload of up to 5,000 kg for a price of $45 million per launch.

[Photo: Zenit 3SLB, Yuzhmash]

Ukrainian companies are to supply and support up to eight rocket launches a year starting in 2022. This would mean jobs for hundreds of high-tech Ukrainian workers.

Ukrainian Aerospace Industry: More JVs in Canada?

Dnipro-based Yuzhnoe and Yuzhmash have agreed to supply the new spaceport with an updated version of its Cyclone 4 rocket, dubbed Cyclone 4M. The new version drops the Soviet parameters of earlier versions and replaces a Russian-made engine with a Ukrainian one.

Ukrainian companies will take additional roles, said John Isella, MLS CEO. These include assisting with launch site design, manufacturing unique vehicles, testing, and mission operations at the launch site. Each rocket is to be made entirely of Ukrainian components.

MLS expects up to 50 scientists, technicians, and other staff to work at the site year round. That number would triple in the lead-up to a launch.

Andriienko, the company’s sole Ukrainian staff member, expects this will create high-tech jobs for Ukrainians.

“A lot of Ukrainian workers from Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash will work on realizing this project during the different phases,” she said. “The Ukrainian space industry will definitely benefit from this project. It will bring orders to a huge amount of different industrial enterprises all around the country.

For now, Kharkiv’s Alona Andriienko, MLS Program Manager, is the company’s sole Ukrainian staffer.

Canada-Ukraine Work Well Together

The control system for the Cyclone rocket series was designed by Kharkiv’s Electropribor.

Cyclone 2 was retired in 2006. Cyclone 3 made its final flight in 2009. Cyclone 4 was under development when it was replaced by Cyclone 4M for use at the Canadian spaceport.

Yuzhnoe originally signed a deal to work with Brazil’s Alcantara spaceport. That deal was thrown out by Brazil’s government in 2015 for political and financial reasons, including apparent Russian pressure.

This suits MLS’ Andriienko fine.

“The historically-close ties between Canada and Ukraine … will help to build a firm foundation for future projects, including the launching of Ukrainian satellites,” she said. “It will bring huge benefits and profits to both economies in the near future.”

The Cyclone 4M uses a Zenit-derived first stage powered by Ukrainian-built engines with an upper stage developed especially for this rocket. The payload sits on top.


For comments or news tips, please contact UBJ Reporter Lee Reaney at lee.reaney@theubj.com.

All photos supplied

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