Ukraine makes push for Canadian spaceport

SpaceQ has learned that senior Ukrainian officials are heading to Canada in November including a stop in Halifax and Guysborough County where Maritime Launch Services (MLS) is proposing to build a spaceport. Among the officials coming is Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Uruskyi, State Space Agency of Ukraine Administrator Vladimir Taftai, and likely Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

Before that trip happens, MLS went to the Ukraine this week to set the stage. Representing MLS on the trip was CEO Steve Matier, Dr. Yaroslav Pustovyi, Director of Safety and Sasha Jacob, Chair and CEO of Jacob Capital Management Inc.

Jacob was appointed as the MLS Chair of the Board in April, was an early investor, and has been spearheading efforts to raise capital.

Jacob’s efforts led to MLS announcing this past May that it had received $10.5M in financing led by Power One Capital Markets Limited and Primary Capital Inc. Since then the company has been ramping up its efforts to get construction started as soon as possible on the Nova Scotia based spaceport. At the top of its to do list is completing the environmental requirements the province has assigned to the company. Once that’s done and the province has signed off on the spaceport, construction will begin.

Maritime Launch Services Cyclone 4M rocket
Maritime Launch Services Cyclone 4M rocket. Credit: Maritime Launch Services.

Meeting in the Ukraine

MLS was in the Ukraine this week meeting with senior Ukrainian officials and visiting the Yuzhnoye Design Office and rocket manufacturer Yuzhmash.

The meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Uruskyi, who is also the Minister for Strategic Industries, was of particular importance for the company. Readers should note that Uruskyi was trained as an engineer and between 2015 to March 2020 was Chairman of the State Space Agency of Ukraine and is therefore well versed on the Ukrainian space program.

Also at the meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister were Yurii Petrovskiy, Deputy Minister of Strategic Industries for European Integration, and Vladimir Taftai, Chairman of the State Space Agency of Ukraine.

It should also be noted that at the recent Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Chairman Taftai met with Canadian Space Agency President Lisa Campbell in a private meeting where the Nova Scotia spaceport was discussed. Based on that meeting, the meeting this week, including comments by the Deputy Prime Minister, It would seem the Ukrainian government is making a strong push for spaceport to move forward.

The Maritime Launch Services delegation on the right included Steve Matier, CEO (in the middle), Dr. Yaroslav Pustovyi, Director of Safety (in the front), and Sasha Jacob, Chair and CEO, Jacob Capital Management Inc.
The Maritime Launch Services delegation on the right included Steve Matier, CEO (in the middle), Dr. Yaroslav Pustovyi, Director of Safety (in the front), and Sasha Jacob, Chair and CEO, Jacob Capital Management Inc. Credit: Government of Ukraine.

During the meeting with MLS, Deputy Prime Minister Uruskyi signaled his governments intent to to provide funding to Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash for the continued development of the RD-870 rocket engine that would be used in the first stage of Cyclone 4M launch vehicle.

The RD-870 builds on the heritage of Soviet-era engines designed in the Ukraine. The new first stage engine though burns non-toxic kerosene and cryogenic liquid oxygen.

Cyclone 4M Integrated launch Vehicle and specifications
Cyclone 4M Integrated launch Vehicle and specifications. Credit: MLS.

The funding is part of the National Target Scientific and Technical Space Program of Ukraine for 2021-2025 and which is expected to be approved by the government soon.

After the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Uruskyi posted the following to his Facebook page (Translated by Facebook):

  • Ukraine and Canada  are confidently approaching the practical implementation of a joint project in the space industry!
  • At the moment, all bureaucratic issues have been resolved on both sides and in late 2021, the Canadian province of Nova Scotia will (see the start of) construction of the launching complex for the launching of spacecrafts at the Ukrainian Cyclone 4 M rocket launcher.
  • On October 19, Steve Matier discussed details of the implementation of this ambitious project, which also includes domestic state enterprises Construction Bureau Southern M.K. Youngel and Manufacturing Oblast unity southern machine-building plant named after O.M. Makarov.
  • Stressed that the Ministry of Strateg(y) within its powers is ready to provide assistance to enterprises of the space industry of Ukraine during the implementation of this project, because it is mutually beneficial and opens up wide opportunities for both states.
  • Steve Matier reported that there are already preliminary agreements with US companies to launch their satellites with the Ukrainian Cyclone-4 M rocket. The first launch is scheduled for the end of 2023.
  • It should be noted that the implementation of individual aspects of the Ukrainian-Canadian project ′Cyclone-4M is provided by the General State targeted scientific and technical space program of Ukraine for 2021-2025 years, which is expected soon in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Specifically, it is planned to create a march engine of RD-870 with a traction of 80 ts and its further use as a march for the first degree of the mentioned carrier rocket.
  • I am convinced that the commercial creation of a launching complex for launching and using Ukrainian bearers on it will provide additional impetus for the technological development of the space industry enterprises of Ukraine and will facilitate the release of our state to the markets of space machine services on the output of space vehicles Earth orbit.

Meeting in Canada

While MLS had hoped to do a groundbreaking ceremony in November, the company still needs to get Nova Scotia to sign off on the environmental conditions. That may not happen in time for what MLS has been planning.

Those plans began to take shape this summer when the Halifax International Security Forum decided that years event would be held in person. The Forum is being held Nov. 19-21 and will included plenary and informal sessions. One of the informal sessions is focused on the Ukraine. With Canada – Ukraine relations getting stronger and with the Ukraine pivoting away from Russian and towards the west, MLS sensed an opportunity. As it turns out the Ukraine was considering sending a delegation to the Forum and possibly to participate in other activities. One of those activities now includes meeting MLS, and possibly Nova Scotia and federal government officials. There’s no government to government meetings announced, but it’s our understanding discussions are underway to make something happen.

Even though MLS might not have the environmental conditions signed-off by the Nova Scotia government by the time the Halifax International Security Forum takes place, the company is still planning to use the event to make several significant announcements. It’s also my understanding that plans are being made for the Ukrainian delegation, and possibly Canadian officials, to take a tour of the proposed spaceport.