After the USSR fell, Ukraine became home to 24 rocket production factories, the most common ones being Yuzhmash and Yuzhnoye. Ukraine’s rocket production is quite notable, with SpaceX’s Elon Musk agreeing that Zenit, a Ukraine-made rocket, is the best, quite close to the one his company designed and sent to space.
However, Max Polyakov, co-founder of Firefly Aerospace, does not agree that Ukraine is doing well in space technology development. In 25 years, Ukraine has not designed or launched any machinery to space, which is a sign to him that after the fall of the USSR, the advancement of space technology in Ukraine stopped rather than thrived. Compared to the EU, China, the US, Japan, and other notable territories, Ukraine is still very much behind. What’s more, after Brazil invested over $300 million in Ukraine during the development of its spaceport Alcantara and Ukraine failed to deliver its end of the agreement on time, most of these countries are no longer interested in collaborating with it. Brazil turned to other countries such as the US, Japan, France, Israel, and Russia to finish up the project. As soon as it was launched in 2017, these territories were able to rent the spaceport, bringing the country up to $1.5 billion in revenue every year.
Ukraine has everything it needs to make its mark in the space technology industry, as it is one of the only ten countries in the world that can provide the full stack of space machinery production. However, Max Polyakov observes that in 25 years, the country has not made any significant development, such as launching a spacecraft in space. The founder of Firefly Aerospace believes that the 3rd Article of the Entrepreneurship law in the country that gives only the government the right to design, manipulate, and launch space vehicles may be the biggest obstacle. Countries like Poland and the US that allow private companies to participate in space technology development after authorization from a government body are making way better progress.
However, Max Polyakov is sure that the State Agency of Ukraine is making a policy that will make the ‘cosmic slack period’ in Ukraine come to an end. The agency is creating a draft law to allow private and state agencies to compete for space projects for approval by parliament. If this law is passed, Firefly Aerospace will become one of the private agencies to join the industry and help Ukraine contribute to space technology development.
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