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How Ukraine Launched Its Space Program

3. December 2009 by Daniel 0 Comments

When Ukraine became an independent state in 1991, many thought that much of the infrastructure created when the country was part of the Soviet Union would collapse. However, this did not happen and the Ukrainian space program is a great example of this.


Originally established under the Soviet Space program, Ukraine’s space initiative was officially named National Space Agency of Ukraine after the country’s secession. The program finally had a chance to establish itself as a separate entity from the Soviet and Russian programs in 1995 after the launch of the Sich-1 satellite, making Ukraine the world’s tenth Space Power. Today the National Space Agency has constructed and launched a total of six satellites.


Ukraine’s first manned mission occurred in conjunction with a NASA (US), NSAU (UKR) and NASDA (Japan) joint mission in 1997. Ukrainian cosmonaut Leonid Kadeniuk was launched into space on NASA’s Columbia space shuttle for almost 16 days as part of mission STS-87.


Leonid joined the Soviet Air Force in 1976, which provided a path for him to become a cosmonaut. He became a Russian citizen after the Soviet Union fell apart, but returned to Ukraine in 1995 to help the country's space program. He later moved into politics, becoming elected to the Ukrainian parliament in 2002.