Ukraine’s Promin Aerospace on track for 2023 flight test

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WASHINGTON – Ukrainian startup Promin Aerospace remains on track to conduct the first test of its small satellite launch technology early next year, in spite of the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war.

“We have done a lot of research, development and manufacturing in the last 10 months and we hired two engineers in August,” Misha Rudominski, Promin CEO and co-founder, told SpaceNews.

Remaining on track in the midst of a war has not been easy.

Promin’s research and development laboratory is based in Dnipro, a central Ukrainian city that has been struck by Russian missiles. To keep employees there safe, Promin does not publicize the location of its lab. The company also strives to prevent power outages there by maintaining two separate electric circuits.

“We can’t really move out of the city because that’s where we hire. That’s where a lot of specialists are,” Rudominski said.

Dnipro is known for aerospace expertise because it is home to Ukraine’s state-run aerospace company Yuzhmash and space technology design office Yuzhnoe.

Although work continues, the war forced Promin to scale back expansion plans.

On Feb. 22, two days before the Russian invasion, Rudominski sent the first batch of emails seeking seed investment. When the war started, Promin executives realized their investment plans would need to be put on hold while their focus shifted to the safety of employees, families and friends, plus support for Ukrainian defense and humanitarian relief efforts.

By early April, most employees were back working full time.

“The worst thing psychologically for a person during wartime is to just sit and do nothing because you worry about the war,” Rudominski said.

Instead of expanding its staff as previously planned for 2022, Promin has “doubled down on engineering” with funding raised during earlier rounds and $100,000 in non-dilutive funding provided by Google in August.

Early next year, Promin plans to conduct the first test launch of a small rocket. If possible, the company will attempt to send the rocket to an altitude of roughly 100 meters in Ukraine.

“Obviously, there are questions whether the [Ukrainian] administer government is going to allow us to do it,” Rudominski said.

If Promin does not receive approval to conduct the launch in Ukraine, it is likely to occur in Scotland. Promin has a memorandum of understanding to launch from a Scottish spaceport.

“By the end of summer 2023, we are planning to do our launches from the spaceport in Scotland,” Rudominski said.

Correction: Google awarded non-dilutive funding to Promin Aerospace in August, not in May as stated in an earlier version of this article.