The history of Ukrainian space industry starts back in 1937 when a team of scientists from Kharkiv Aviation Institute lead by Georgy Proskura launched a large stratospheric rocket near Kharkiv.
Dnipropetrovsk, in Central Ukraine, was the site of a large manufacturer of automobiles. The "Machine-Building Plant" as it was called, was renamed "Machine-Building Plant No. 586" and assigned to develop and manufacture R-1 missiles in 1951. Three years later, the "Special Design Office No.586," headed by Michael Yangel, was created to develop the R-12, a new generation of missile with advanced combat characteristics. In 1966 the Machine-Building Plant no. 586 was renamed "Yuzhny Machine-Building Plant" and the "Special Design Office" designated "Yuzhnoye State Design Office" or, simply, "SDO Yuzhnoye."
The Cosmos satellite launch vehicle was mainly developed at Dnipropetrovsk in 1957 based on the R-12 missile. Cosmos eventually became the primary launch vehicle in the Former Soviet Union and maintained this position throughout the 1960's and well into the 1970's.
Ukrainian space industry enterprises and establishments played critical roles in launch preparations for the historic deployment of the first artificial Earth satellite on October 4, 1957. Ukrainian enterprises, which contributed to this worldchanging event, included "Arsenal", "Kommunar," "Monolit," "Evpatoria Space Center." These enterprises along with the "SDO Yuzhnoye" and "Yuzhny Machine-Building Plant" still participate today as part of the Ukrainian space industry.
Since early 60's space industry enterprises have developed and manufactured control systems, on-board equipment, and micro satellite platforms for space vehicles and launch complexes.
Yuriy Gagarin lifted into space on April 12, 1961 on a Russian modified intercontinental ballistic missile (R-7) equipped with devices developed by "Kommunar" and "Arsenal."
The "SDO Yuzhnoye" embarked on the design of space capsules in addition to launch vehicles. This brilliant scientific research effort resulted in the development of "Meteor" and "Strila" spacecraft, which were launched in 1961.
These successes were followed in 1962 with the launch of the first Dnipropetrovsk-made satellite, the DC-2, which was deployed into orbit by a Cosmos rocket.
Yangel's "SDO Yuzhnoye" continued to grow in reputation throughout the 1960's as it developed a series of Little Unified Earth Satellites for scientific research.
In partnership with "Yuzhny Machine-Building Plant" they designed and produced the world famous Cyclone-series launch vehicles which were based on R-36 intercontinental ballistic missiles.
"SDO Yuzhnoye" initiated the development and implementation of an international space program called "Intercosmos". The first satellite in this program, "Intercosmos-1," was launched in 1969.
The decade of the 1970's saw increased emphasis on international teamwork. Between 1971 and 1982 a cooperative effort with the French Space Center produced a number of launches of Dnipropetrovsk-made "Oreol" satellites. Specialists of "SDO Yuzhnoye" assisted in the development and launch of Indian Ariabhata and Bhaskara satellites. The domestic space program saw the initiation of automated universal orbital stations (AUOS) and a "SDO Yuzhnoye" team headed by Volodymyr Utkin started to develop and test Zenit-series launch vehicles beginning in 1976.
"Okean" satellites were designed for remote earth sensing and world Ocean research and launches began in the early 1980's.
The National Space Agency of Ukraine (NSAU) was established in 1992 after the breakdown of the USSR.
Two years after Ukraine became an independent nation, it adopted its first State space program covering years 1993 through 1997. Key elements of this program included:
- The inauguration in 1995 of a sweeping venture in close cooperation with Russian, U.S., and Norwegian partners. "SDO Yuzhnoye" and "Yuzhny Machine-Building Plant" are central figures in the internationally acclaimed Sea Launch project.
- The first Ukrainian satellite launch from the Plesetsk launch site. The "Sich-1" satellite was launched in 1995..
- The establishment in1996 of a National Academy of Science of Ukraine-National Space Agency of Ukraine (NASU-NSAU) Space Research Institute
- Yevpatoria National Space Facilities Control And Test Center was established in 1996.
- The Law of Ukraine "On Space Activities" was adopted by the parliament in 1996.
- SDO "Yuzhnoye" and Russian partners embarked on the development of the "Dnepr" launch vehicle in 1997. The "Dnipro" is based on the intercontinental ballistic missile RS-20 (or SS-18 "Satan" by NATO classification).
- Leonid Kadenuk the first Ukrainian astronaut joined Columbia spacecraft crew n
Mission STS-87 in November, 1997.
NSAU has continued to consolidate Space industry enterprises and establishments and in 1998 they were subordinated to National Space Agency in order to improve industry's performance. Other recent NSAU achievements:
- First test launch of Zenit-3SL launch vehicle with a mockup satellite was carried out in March 1999. The payload for the demonstration launch was designed to simulate the mass properties of a 4,500 kg (9,900 lb) commercial spacecraft. DemoSat executed a precisely controlled flight profile and was one of the most highly instrumented test missions ever flown.
- The first commercial launch was in October, 1999 (American Direct TV-1R communication satellite). The 3,450 kg (7,600 lb) payload for the first commercial mission was the DIRECTV 1-R broadcast satellite, successfully launched successfully to Geosynchronus Transfer Orbit - on time and on target.
- In April 1999 "Dnipro" launcher delivered a British Satellite (UoSAT) into orbit.
- A Zenit-2 carrier launched Okean-O, Ukrainian-Russian satellite, in July, 1999.
- In September 2000 "Dnipro" successfully delivered five small satellites into orbit: SaudiSat-1A, SaudiSat-1A (Saudi Arabia), UniSat, MegSat (Italy), TiungSat (Malaysia).
The recent successes of Sea Launch project include:
PanAmSat - July 28, 2000
The 3,659 kg (8,067-lb) PAS-9 communications satellite was launched successfully to Geosynchronus Transfer Orbit and, less than two months later, supported the broadcast of the Summer 2000 Olympics.
Thuraya - October 20, 2000
The 5,108 kg (11,260 lb) Thuraya-1 communications satellite was the heaviest commercial payload ever launched. Now positioned in geosynchronous orbit, the satellite will provide regional mobile telecommunications services to 99 countries in the Middle East, Europe, India, Africa and central Asia.
XM-2/ROCK - March 18, 2001
The 4,666 kg (10,287 lb) XM-2/Rock satellite is the most powerful commercial communications satellite in orbit and one of two spacecraft that will transmit state-of-the-art digital audio radio programming directly to cars, homes and portable radios throughout the continental United States. Exceptional injection accuracy saved two days of flight time to final position in geostationary orbit.
XM-1/ROLL - May 8, 2001
The 4,672 kg (10,297 lb) twin spacecraft to "Rock," XM-1 was launched with outstanding accuracy and completed the "Rock" and "Roll" constellation for XM Satellite Radio.