Op-ed | Ukraine Will Fight. Ukraine Will Win.

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A national space program and corporate reform are two major steps to finally cut ties with Ukraine’s Soviet past and to shift the Ukrainian space industry to a new corporate model. 

It’s hard to imagine, but right now, the Ukrainian army, and citizens in every city putting their lives on the line, are holding back Russian troops despite being outgunned and outnumbered. 

We foresee a hard-fought victory for Ukraine opening a new chapter in our history.

Space will be part of that new chapter.  

In the past, under conditions of a permanent budget deficit, it was always hard to get decent funding for our defense and aerospace sectors. We pushed for years for a renewed national space program, which Ukraine hasn’t had since 2017. Now, this is about to change.

Previously, the justification for a national space program was about economic growth and technology development; now, it is about the survival of the nation. 

Several critical steps need to be done to build a modern space sector in Ukraine, one that leverages Soviet heritage and existing, powerful space enterprises currently managed by the state.

First, Ukraine should finally receive a new well-funded national space program with a focus on deploying its own remote-sensing satellite constellation and establishing autonomous access to space from its own territory. 

Obviously, we don’t foresee building a spaceport for vertical launches in the center of Europe, but focusing instead on horizontal launch and air-launch capabilities. There is already an ongoing Ukrainian air-launch project in cooperation with Poland and Italy utilizing standard medium-range aircraft. 

In January, as Russian forces were gathering on our border, a Ukrainian remote-sensing satellite called Sich 2-30, part of a new constellation, launched on a SpaceX rideshare mission.

One of the main goals of the new national space program should be generating demand for new space technology developed by private companies who will both collaborate and compete with huge state space enterprises. Legislation allowing private space business in Ukraine was already approved by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in 2020. This new ecosystem can be achieved by the corporate reform which was ready to be launched in 2020 but faced severe resistance from the old elites. Now it’s time to push it forward.

A national space program and corporate reform are two major steps to finally cut ties with Ukraine’s Soviet past and to shift the Ukrainian space industry to a new corporate model. 

Ukraine joined the Artemis Accords in 2020 and has been a reliable international partner since 1993. 

We are contributing to Antares and Vega projects and still have a lot to offer. 

The future of Ukrainian space is not in Soviet technology and huge, old factories but in creative and patriotic people who are still developing world-class technology with a fraction of the resources normally required elsewhere. 

New space startups are appearing almost every month and there will be more of them.

Nobody believed Ukraine would be able to stand up to the Russian army crossing over our borders, but we are doing it. 

Nobody believes that Ukraine can become a player in the global space industry, but we will be happy to surprise the world once again. 

Ukraine will win. Freedom and democracy will prevail. On Earth and in Space.

Volodymyr Usov was chairman of the State Space Agency of Ukraine from January 2020 to January 2021. He is currently the co-founder of Kurs Orbital. He is on LinkedIn and Twitter