Ukrainian Space Startups
by Rick Tumlinson
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Jul 15, 2022
In 2016 and 2018, I was invited to Ukraine. I gave speeches about the Space Revolution at the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, in Dnipro and other venues, and met with the Mayors, leaders of the Rada, the Ukrainian cosmonaut corps, and other space leaders, as well as several groups of their rising tech community.
The folks I met there, just a couple of years after what they refer to as the "Maidan Revolution," were terrific. I could feel the energy, the excitement, and the pride of a people whose self-identity was forged over hundreds of years, yet for the first time in the modern era, was being unleashed. It was exhilarating.
Ukraine has been seminal in the history of space. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, arguably one of the fathers of the human space movement and inspiration to Gerard K. O'Neill and many others, was born in Ukraine. Also born in Ukraine, the legendary Serhiy Korolov led the Sputnik team. More, a significant portion of the innovation and design of the entire Soviet Space Program is traceable to Ukrainian leadership and engineering.
In my 2016 and 2018 visits, I offered ideas and suggestions on how Ukraine could join this new space race. I would like to think that perhaps my words had some tiny effect on the Rada's decision in 2019 to unleash Ukrainian genius by allowing and encouraging their private companies to develop, test, and launch space systems. From the older Soviet-era cosmonauts and pioneers to young entrepreneurs, it was clear this newly re-minted nation was ready to take its place among those opening space.
In 2017 my co-founder and I had an idea to create a space-focused venture capital company. On a completely different track than my previous visit, my friend Dmitry Segal, a resident of Ukraine, backed the idea with his own money. Along with Meagan Crawford, we then founded SpaceFund.
Thus, as you can see, Ukraine holds a special place in my own and our team's hearts.
This Special Database is dedicated to our space startup friends in the brave Ukrainian Republic. While our amazing team did their best to ensure those listed are still viable, given the vagaries of war and the ongoing devastation wrought by the Russian leader's unprovoked and malicious invasion, the companies here may or may not still exist.
Also, while our early investments have been largely in the US or UK (with one in Luxembourg, and one in South America), you can be sure that as we evolve our subsequent funds, we will be keeping a keen eye on the innovative and exciting space community in Ukraine.
As and when this ridiculous war ends, I do not doubt that a renewed and reinvigorated Ukrainian space industry will arise to join the rest of us as we throw open the airlock to the Solar System. Meanwhile, we urge you, whether in government or the private sector, to reach out and engage with some of the most underappreciated yet brilliant minds on this planet.
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