The National Space Agency of Ukraine (NSAU; Національне космічне агентство України, Natsional'ne kosmichne ahentstvo Ukrayiny, НКАУ, NKAU) is the Ukrainian government agency responsible for space policy and programs.
NSAU is a civil body in charge of co-ordinating the efforts of government installations, research, and industrial companies (mostly state-owned). Several space-related institutes and industries are directly subordinated to NSAU. However, it is not a united and centralized system immediately participating in all stages and details of space programs (like NASA in the United States). A special space force in the military of Ukraine is also absent.
The agency oversees launch vehicle and satellite programs, co-operative programs with the Russian Aviation and Space Agency, the European Space Agency, NASA, and commercial ventures. International participation includes Sea Launch and the Galileo positioning system.
Spacecraft include the Sich and Okean Earth observation satellites, and the Coronas solar observatory with Russia. Ukraine's Space Agency has supplied Russia with military satellites and their launch vehicles, a unique relationship in the world.
The space activities in Ukraine have been pursued over the 10-year span in strict accordance with National Space Programs. Each of them was intended to address the relevant current issues to preserve and further develop the space potential of Ukraine. The First Program (1993-1997) was called upon to keep up the research and industrial space-related potentiality for the benefit of national economy and state security as well as to be able to break into the international market of space services. The Second Program (1998-2002) was aimed at creating the internal market of space services, conquering the international space markets by presenting the in-house products and services (including launch complexes and spacecraft, space-acquired data, space system components) and integrating Ukraine into the worldwide space community.
The National Space Program of Ukraine for 2003-2007 (NSPU), which was adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (the Parliament of Ukraine) on October 24, 2002, outlines the main goals, assignments, priorities, and methods of maintaining the space activity in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers announced its plans on 13 April 2007 to allocate 312 million euros to the National Space Program for 2007-2011.
Goals of the program
Prior to Ukraine's independence, several Ukrainians flew in space under the Soviet flag. The first Ukrainaian to fly in space under the Ukrainian flag was Leonid K. Kadenyuk on 13 May 1997. He was a payload specialist on NASA's STS-87 Space Shuttle mission. It was an international spaceflight mission, involving crew members from NASA (USA), NSAU (Ukraine) and NASDA (Japan).
Sea Launch is joint venture space transportation company, partially owned by companies in Ukraine which handle operations for the National Space Agency. Sea Launch offers a mobile sea platform, used for spacecraft launches of commercial payloads on specialized Ukrainian Zenit 3SL rockets. The main advantage of floating cosmodrome is its placing at the equator directly. It allows the use of the greatest effect of Earth's rotation to deliver payloads into orbit at low expense.
Within the frameworks of the project the space rocket complex was developed, which consists of four components:
During 1991-2007, a total of 97 launches of Ukrainian LV were conducted, including, but not limited to launches on the Sea Launch mobile launch pad. In 2006 Ukrainian launch vehicles accounted for 12.1% of all launches into space in the world.
Ukrainian companies Yangel Yuzhnoye State Design Office and Makarov Yuzhny Machine-Building Plant (Yuzhmash) have engineered and produced seven types of launch vehicles. Adding strapon boosters to launch vehicles may expand the family of Mayak, which is the latest launch vehicle developed.
The Svityaz aerospace rocket complex (ASRC) is intended for launching of various spacecrafts (SC) into circular, elliptic and high-altitude circular, including the geostationary (GSO), orbits. Svityaz ASC represents a unique system that allows launch spacecrafts without utilization of complicated ground infrastructure. The Svityaz is launched directly from a modified version of Mriya, a Ukrainian airplane and airplane carrier that is currently the largest one in the world. Modified Mriya that will be used to carry Svityaz has been designated a code of An-225-100.
The aircraft is equipped with special devices to secure the LV above the fuselage. The operators and onboard equipment are located in the pressure-tight cabins. The Svityaz LV is being created on the basis of units, aggregates and systems of Zenit LV. It consists of three stages of non-toxic propellants - liquid oxygen and kerosene. The launch vehicle is injected into the geostationary orbit using a solid-propellant apogee stage.
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