Ukrainian Space Industry Has What It Takes To Contribute To ESA’s Infrastructure
by Arnab Dey Technology 06 May 2023
In the mid-twentieth century, Ukraine had the strongest technological space base in all of Eastern Europe, and even though the Ukrainian space industry experienced a short decline in the 1990s, the sector is being steadily revitalized. Today, the Ukrainian space sector employs over 16,000 highly qualified engineers, with 5,000 more graduating from universities every year.
In the last few years alone, over thirty new aerospace companies emerged in Ukraine, offering a vast range of innovative tech products. Of course, Ukrainian space industry development wouldn’t have been possible without passionate visionaries determined to keep moving it forward. One such visionary is an international entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist Maxym Polyakov who firmly believes Ukraine already has what it takes to become a valued ESA contributor.
Lately, the ESA has been heavily invested in organizing workshops, seminars, and business cooperation programs for startups and SMEs. A focus on emerging, small to medium-sized enterprises has already resulted in a series of innovative projects, moving the European space industry forward. Now, Dr. Maxym Polyakov is confident Ukraine could become a prized addition to the list of ESA program participants.
What Does the Ukrainian Space Industry Have to Offer?
According to the ESA’s official page, the agency actively collaborates with private businesses through its Industry Portal. The companies from the ESA Member States, along with the Associated and Cooperating States, can bid on ESA’s latest initiates and apply for grants. And according to the agency’s official statistics, around 30% of all businesses chosen for collaboration between 2013 and 2017 were SMEs. Today, around 2,700 small to medium-sized companies are working on ESA missions.
Ukraine has the potential to add to this list, even though the competition is obviously high. Still, the rapid growth of Ukrainian aerospace startups can only mean one thing — the Ukrainian space industry is thriving. The startups in question produce all sorts of space-related products — from liquid-propellant engines and lunar rovers to thrusters and rocket component parts.
Quite a few of those companies arose thanks to Maxym Polyakov, a founder of US-based Firefly Aerospace and a few other international space businesses. For example, EOS Data Analytics (EOSDA), established in 2015, is now a reliable provider of quality satellite imagery for a vast range of commercial industries, including agriculture, construction, forestry, mining, and many others.
Another project, established in 2016, Space Electric Thruster Systems (SETS), develops propulsion systems and subsystems. The company already collaborates with established providers, such as Thales Alenia Space, OHB, Airbus, and Ariane Group, among a few others. In 2018, SETS received the Seal of Excellence for its cutting-edge satellite orbiting and orienting technologies. What’s even more important, SETS can ensure the safe de-orbiting of used spacecraft, which addresses a pressing issue of space debris.
Flight Control Propulsion is another Ukrainian project initiated by Dr. Maxym Polyakov. The company produces a full range of space flight and control systems, including liquid and combustion engines, gas generators, turbo pumps, valves, and other flight component parts. By making use of additive technologies, Flight Control balances affordability with the highest quality of its products.
One thing that most space companies in Ukraine have in common is a strong scientific base and dedicated human talent. Both factors act as driving forces in space industry development, which is something the ESA could obviously benefit from. In its recent report, Noosphere Ventures, an investment fund established by Maxym Polyakov, specifically emphasized the ‘experienced yet cost-effective’ workforce the Ukrainian space sector is so proud of.
Ukrainian Human Talent is Backed by a Strong Scientific Base
One of the reasons the Ukrainian space industry possesses so many qualified experts is that Ukrainian human talent has been historically backed up by a strong scientific base. Thanks to an impressive theoretical base from Ukrainian universities and research institutions, many experts have already contributed their share to international space missions.
ESA, for example, strongly emphasizes the need to inspire young generations to follow STEM careers. Its educational programs and initiatives target multiple age groups, from primary school students to university graduates. According to the ESA, the primary goal of these programs is to raise a generation of engineers prepared to tackle any challenges, regardless of the industry they belong to.
In Ukraine, Maxym Polyakov adheres to the same principles, actively investing in educational programs for Ukrainian teens. Through his non-government organization Noosphere, the investor has already initiated plenty of tech competitions, scholarships, and other tech events. Over 50,000 young Ukrainians have attended or participated in aerospace workshops taking place all over the country.
It’s no secret that Ukraine is going through rough times right now, fighting against Russian aggression. However, the Ukrainian space industry keeps moving forward despite all odds, which, once again, proves this nation’s focus and determination. The price for freedom and loyalty to European democratic values is very high in the case of Ukraine, so it would make all the sense in the world to support this country — including through engagement in ESA’s missions and initiatives.
Maxym Polyakov is a Ukrainian entrepreneur who, over the years of his professional activity, has developed many successful projects, including Maxymiser, Hit Dynamics, Firefly Aerospace, and many others.