How Ukraine Can Reinforce the ESA Gateway to Space

Outer space

More than 16,000 specialists are working in the space sector, 30+ startups have appeared in recent years, and about 5,000 experts graduate with aerospace engineering degrees annually. That’s all about Ukrainian space capabilities, which international space entrepreneur Max Polyakov has been trying to raise to the global level during the last couple of years. Ukraine’s space heritage and strong space community, European perspectives of the country, and its resilience in confronting Russia’s army – these reasons are good enough to look closely at Ukraine as a potential member of the European Space Agency (ESA). 

ESA is positioning itself as an institution to shape the development of Europe’s space capability, including investing in research and education and promoting cooperation between space startups and SMEs. It provides learning classes, workshops, training sessions, grant programs, business-oriented programs, and more. All these activities are available only to ESA member countries. 

Ukrainians to conquer the European market

Ukrainian space companies could participate in ESA space programs through ESA’s Industry portal. Due to the ESA official page, “in the period 2013–2017, an average 30% of the industry of ESA Member States, Associated States and Cooperating States which were involved in ESA activities and received commitments, were SMEs”. More than 2700 SMEs are currently working with ESA through ESA’s SME Office. 

Even though competition in the space market is rather challenging, Ukrainian startups and SMEs have some solutions to offer to the European market. Over the last ten years, over 30 space startups appeared in Ukraine – from classic liquid and solid-propellant rockets to air starts, propulsion systems, Moon and Mars exploration, etc. This includes Ukrainian private space companies Flight Control, SETS, and EOS Data Analitycs, founded by an international space entrepreneur Max Polyakov. 

Talking about the benefits that Ukraine could bring to the European space sector on the side of human potential, some data could be found in the latest report published by Noosphere Ventures, a space industry investment fund founded by Dr Max Polyakov. ESA and the European space scene can benefit from cooperation with Ukraine because of (1) “Experienced, but cost-effective workforce” and (2) “Ukrainian experienced staff, already involved in the international space projects as advisors and mentors”. 

Engineers, scientists, students – nobody left behind?

Ukraine has talented engineers able to solve numerous problems and find creative solutions. In addition, Ukraine has a well-developed scientific community with world-recognized scientists and researchers whose work could contribute to the resolution of the most challenging problems. At the same time, Ukraine provides solid engineering education. 

ESA offers many opportunities for aspiring youth, established scientists, and teachers. These educational options target many groups – from the early primary school level to the PhD level at universities.  ESA’s vision on the role of education is “not only to prepare the future workforce that will turn Europe’s space strategy and ambitions into reality, but also – very importantly – to build generations of future citizens who are informed, able to decide and act responsibly, and who are equipped to face the challenges of the future, whatever profession they choose”.

In Ukraine, Max Polyakov, who invests in inspiring young space dreamers, is building a similar infrastructure. Engineering schools, hackathons, workshops, rocket modeling competitions and fests by non-government organization Noosphere, founded by Dr Max Polyakov, are highly-demanded among young Ukrainians. More than 50 thousand participants all over Ukraine took part in Noosphere’s activities in past years. It seems that Ukraine has a real space nation, doesn’t it? 

Last but not least: Ukrainians proved their European aspirations and paid a rather high price for European values. This country and its brave people are more than worthy to be a part of the European family. The space community should not be the one turning Ukrainians down. 

Noosphere Venture Partners is known for investing in Firefly Aerospace in the US, Dragonfly Aerospace in South Africa, and Italian D-Orbit. 

Max Polyakov has Ukrainian roots and is known for supporting Ukraine in its war for independence. Since the 90s, Max Polyakov has launched many profitable businesses such as Maxymiser, Hit Dynamics, Firefly Aerospace, and EOS Data Analytics. Now he is focusing on the space industry and philanthropy.

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