In late May Volodymyr Usov, Head of the State Space Agency, said that Ukraine plan to launch rockets into space by 2023–2024. According to the official, they plan to implement it using the method of air launch, which allows the aircraft to be used as a spaceport. Liubov Yankiv-Vitkovska, Associate Professor at the Department of Higher Geodesy and Astronomy, tells about the possibility of plans implementation of the Head of the State Space Agency, air launch and development of space science in Ukraine and Lviv Polytechnic in particular.
– The air launch involves the release of rockets from a special aircraft. For this purpose we developed our «Mriya». It is also worth mentioning that Ukraine played an important role in creating a sea launch: a platform to launch missiles was built in Brazil together with Ukrainian scientists.
This idea has existed since the 1970s, but has not been widely publicized yet. At present, we have been implementing military projects with the help of an air launch, and such work is also being carried out abroad for military purposes.
Ukraine does not have its own spaceport for launching rockets, because at the time of the development of the space industry, we were part of the Soviet Union. The main spaceports were in Baikonur and the Arkhangelsk region, so all rocket launches took place there, and there was no need for other sites. It is very expensive to build a spaceport, plus it requires a large and specific area (the site must be located close to the equator or the poles of the Earth).
Developments for air launches exist, moreover, even Ukrainian schoolchildren are working on them. Modern rockets are no longer so heavy, and many modifications are currently being made to create light rocket propellant. Therefore, Volodymyr Usov’s statement about the air launch is quite real.
We are living in a unique time of space exploration
– Today we are living in a unique time of the development of space exploration and space industry, so country leadership and the ministry must make some changes. For example, we scientists carry out various research projects, National Space Facilities Control And Test Center, with which we cooperate, provides us with equipment, including equipment for the study of artificial satellites of the Earth. But besides this equipment and atmospheric monitoring, the results of which will benefit not only space science, but also the agricultural sector, Intelligence assessment, emergency forecasting (earthquakes, etc.) etc, there are a lot of obstacles in the form of instructions and regulations that, unfortunately, we have to comply with. And it does not depend on the University, on the contrary, the leadership of Polytechnic supports us in every possible way.