Matthew Bodner — In April 2015, the commander of Russia’s Space Forces, Alexander Golovko, announced plans to overhaul a Soviet-built space tracking facility known as NIP-16 and re-integrate it into Russia’s network by 2020. Located in Yevpatoria, a town situated on the Crimean Peninsula, the facility — built in the 1960s for tracking space probes bound for Venus and Mars — was among the spoils of Russia’s swift yet bloodless seizure of the region from independent Ukraine in March 2014.
For Russia’s ailing space program, the government’s decision to annex Crimea was a mixed — though largely negative — blessing. The NIP-16 facility presents Russia with an opportunity to reestablish communications coverage that was lost with the fall of the Soviet Union, but the program has suffered under the pressure of Russia’s economic crisis and is now vulnerable to future Western economic sanctions against Russia.
Ukraine’s space agency, and the country’s small but highly specialized space industry, have been hit harder than Russia by the conflict over Crimea… [View the whole story at spacenewsmag.com]
Jeff Foust — The last two years have been tough for Ukraine in general, and its space program in particular. Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 meant Ukraine lost access to a major ground station located there. That annexation, and ongoing unrest in eastern Ukraine, has also cut off most business Ukraine’s space industry had with Russia. The conflict also put on hold plans to launch Lybid, a communications satellite for Ukraine built by Canada’s MDA Corp.
There have been other problems as well. Demand for the Ukraine’s Zenit launch vehicle has dried up as Sea Launch suspended operations, and its future remains uncertain. Brazil backed out — for now, at least — of an agreement to host a launch site for the Cyclone-4 rocket. The failure of an Orbital ATK Antares rocket in October 2014 also affected Ukraine, as the rocket’s first stage is designed and built by Ukrainian firms Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash.
Despite these problems, Lyubomyr Sabadosh, chairman of the State Space Agency of Ukraine, remains optimistic about the future… [View the whole story at spacenewsmag.com]
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