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How Max Polyakov from Zaporozhie develops the Ukrainian space industry
by Leah Green for SpaceDaily.com
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Oct 19, 2018

Max Polyakov - Founder of Firefly Aerospace

Despite the fact that only state organizations have the right to develop the space industry in Ukraine, Max Polyakov supports the sphere in the country. He and his Noosphere organize the events concerning the field's theme.

Private Space Abroad USA: How the Ukrainian Max Polyakov Develops the Industry

Ukraine has all the production capacities to manufacture space vehicles without foreign elements. This is one of the reasons why the country is considered to be a space-faring nation since the USSR. But is it true?

Ukraine became the owner of 24 factories which provided the rocket production after the USSR stopped existing. The most famous ones are the design office "Yuzhnoye" and the plant "Yuzhmash'. Even Elon Musk thinks that the Ukrainian rocket "Zenit'' is the best one after the SpaceX products.

Although Ukraine has an impressive manufacturing potential, the Firefly Company founder, Max Polyakov, thinks that the country is still behind the leaders of cosmic exploration: USA, EU, China, and Japan. Moreover, they refuse to collaborate with it. Max Polyakov mentions Brazil as an example. The country refused to develop the "Cyclone-4" launch with Ukraine because of an inappropriate fulfillment of conditions. As a result, we lost around $ 800 million.

The Firefly founder notes that they signed the contract in 2004 and planned to launch the vehicle from a Brazilian spaceport Alcantara. Ukraine had to design the "Cyclone-4" and arrange the base. They received $ 24.2 million from the country's budget and got a $ 419 million credit which was increased by $ 83 in 2011. Brazil had to arrange the ground infrastructure. The country gave $ 318.5 million from its budget.

But by the last term in 2006, the rocket wasn't ready yet. After this, they asked to change the year of the project fulfillment a few times: 2009, 2011, and 2015. But the Ukrainian party didn't create the rocket and Brazil had to terminate the contract. Despite this fact, they kept building Cyclone-4 and by the moment of breaking the agreement, it was ready by 90 %. But without Brazil which wants to sign the contract about the lease of Alcantara by SpaceX, the launch is impossible. Besides, Russia, China, France, Israel, and the USA want to rent the spaceport too. The American Vector Space Systems, Microcosm, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin visited Alcantara in 2017. Brazil hopes to earn $ 1.5 billion per year by letting them rent the spaceport.

Max Polyakov: Ukraine Needs the Private Space
Max Polyakov thinks that after the collapse of the USSR, the development of space technologies almost stopped in Ukraine. Despite the fact we have all production capacities, the country didn't create any innovative product for the industry during the last 25 years. One of the reasons why is the absence of the government demand on intercontinental ballistic rockets which was the main element of operations of space manufacturers of Ukraine.

Investments could save the situation but the industry has always been and is still closed to the private sector. In Max Polyakov's opinion, this is the main reason why Ukraine is far behind the other countries in the questions of space technology development. According to the 3rd article of a law "About the Entrepreneurship", only governmental companies have the right to create and exploit the launch vehicle on our territory. On the other hand, in neighboring Poland, a private company may get permission after the acceptance of a request by an appropriate state body.

According to Max Polyakov, in the last few years, Ukraine makes efforts to overcome the "cosmic slack period" and return to its past fame. Maybe the private business will have access to space very soon. The Chairman of the State Agency of Ukraine Pavel Dehtiarenko informs that they work on an appropriate draft law.

He insists that they need to create conditions for normal business competition between state and private enterprises for space technology development in Ukraine. He assures that the draft law is being prepared for acceptance by the Ukrainian Parliament but this process is not too fast. Max Polyakov thinks that the formation of the regulatory and legal framework of such an industry should be conducted carefully with no hurry. All the demands should be well-considered and practical.

Max Polyakov thinks that the main advantage of Ukraine is the fact that it's one of ten countries in the world which may provide the full stack of space products manufacturing. After the conflict in 2014, Ukraine broke all the relationships with Russia and lost the main customer and a part of the market. But it managed to change the vector of its operations in the past few years. Now Ukraine cooperates with NASA and tries to become a member of the European Space Agency. The result of the collaboration with NASA is the launching of the Antares rocket with an engine constructed at the "Yuzhmash" factory.

As the owner of the aerospace company with the HQ in Austin, Texas, Max Polyakov thinks that the American market is the most developed one. But the Firefly founder is sure that there are talented engineers with the needed education and working experience in Ukraine to upgrade the space industry and conquer with foreign colleagues.

How Ukrainian Entrepreneurs Develop the Space Business
The world leader in the number of created space projects is the USA, and the quantity of the orbital launches in the country for this year is 20. The private companies made nearly 90 % of them. The leader of the orbital launches is the rocket vehicle Falcon 9 of the famous US company SpaceX which belongs to Elon Musk.

The number of orbital launches in Ukraine equals to a 0 this year. Rather than investing in the Ukrainian space technologies, our entrepreneurs have to develop the aero cosmic business abroad, primarily in the USA, because of the law restrictions. Max Polyakov's Firefly is the brightest example.

It was created as a result of the stock absorption of Firefly Space Systems in 2017. During the year of its existence, Max Polyakov's company developed and tested a range of successful projects. The engine Firefly Lightning and the customer guide Payload User's Guide are among them. Max Polyakov opened the R and D center in Dnepr which has been visited by the Ukrainian President Petr Poroshenko. Besides, his company reached the last level of the development of launch vehicles Firefly Alpha and Firefly Beta. Max Polyakov says that these rockets will be the most preferable method of small satellites delivery to the low orbit of the Earth.

They plan to launch Firefly Alpha for the first time in 2019. Max Polyakov confirmed that the company has got permission from the U.S. Air Force to use the Vandenberg in California as the pad. They already have the first orders. Firefly signed the agreement (LSA) with Surrey Technology Limited in 2018. From 2020 until 2022 Max Polyakov's company will launch Alpha six times for them.

Who Supports Space Initiatives in Ukraine
State space factories such as "Yuzhnoye" and "Yuzhmash" operate in the conditions of chronic lack of finances. The State Space Agency of Ukraine got a little bit more than $ 3 million dollars from the government in 2018. For example, the USA gives NASA more than $ 19 billion.

Notwithstanding the state monopoly in the industry, there are businessmen who try to rebirth the space technologies by creating non-commercial projects in Ukraine. Max Polyakov and his association Noosphere develop the country's field by holding numerous educational events.

The company organizes engineering and technical initiatives annually. For example, the hardware startup Vernadsky Challenge offers mentorship and financial support to the most prospective projects. Space technologies are the main focus of this event.

The Ukrainian team Space Cossacks became the leader of the Vernadsky Challenge in 2017. It showed the best results at the international hackathon ActInSpace in Kiev in 2018. Space Cossacks participated in the final of the event in Toulouse, France.

The team suggested creating a hybrid of a drone and aerostat for the weight delivery. The project lets improve the effectiveness of transportation by the increased capacity, combination of an aerostat motion distance, and flexibility of a product. A drone may fly over 5 km about the ground according to a set trajectory.

Max Polyakov's Noosphere also holds a range of events like the International rocket sport tournaments under the authority of FAI.

Max Polyakov created the Noosphere Engineering School in 2014 which works with the most progressive universities of Ukraine and gives young engineers an opportunity to use the equipment and laboratories of NES. One of the main directions of the institution is space technologies and the solving of the space garbage problem.

Rocket Modeling Sports in Ukraine
Max Polyakov's Noosphere supports the Ukrainian Association of Rocket Modeling Sports. Winners of the tournaments get a grant. A money reward helps to compensate for the prices of instruments, materials, and accessories.

The Yangel Rocket Modeling Competition has been held since 1991 in Dnepr. The 16th tournament was organized in 2012.

Max Polyakov and Noosphere helped FAI to hold the World's Rocket Modeling Competition in 2016. It was organized in Ukraine for the first time. 19 countries participated in the competition.

Max Polyakov's Noosphere and the Ukrainian Association of Rocket Modeling Sport organized 3 types of tournaments in 2018. Ukraine Rocketry Challenge with the 90 000 hryvnas reward was among them.

Max Polyakov is sure that taking interest in rocket modeling is the first step on the way to the space industry career. Ukrainian constructors are able to create projects which will be attractive to potential investors.

Space Competition NASA Apps Challenge
NASA has organized the Apps Challenge since 2012. Startups from different countries perform their space technology projects and try to attract investors. The participants suggest their ideas concerning the solution of various problems. Members of the jury choose participants which will represent their country on the international scene.

The first competition was held by Max Polyakov's Noosphere in 2016. Mars Hopper, the Ukrainian prototype of a flying vehicle for exploration of iciness on Mars, took the first place. The machine works thanks to the energy provided by the carbon dioxide.

The Earth was a theme of the Challenge in 2017. Max Polyakov's Earth Observing Systems Company became the partner of the tournament. It provides the distant sounding of the Earth to analyze problems of the environment and planet's resources.

The experience of different countries shows that the main factor for space industry development is the private business. Max Polyakov, the founder of Firefly Aerospace, is sure that in case our country follows the example of the USA and escapes from law restrictions, the situation will become better. Ukraine will become open for new investors who are ready to support space startups financially.

Related Links
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