Check this out, Elon Musk! Ukraine wants to launch more rockets

Check this out, Elon Musk! Ukraine wants to launch more rockets

This year at once several experimental rockets, created in Ukraine, have risen to the sky. And this is just the beginning.

Segii Pipko is 54 years old, he is a chemistry professor in Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and all his life he has been fond of creating rockets. “At first I learned from soviet books. And in 1998 I got a connection to the Internet”, – recalls he. It is from the Internet that he learned about the developments of foreign rocket amateurs, in particular American ones, which were head and shoulders above those of their fellows from our country. This was a starting point for a serious work in experimental rocketry.

Now Segii Pipko is a leader of student design department NAURocket at the National Aviation University and he knows how to create rocket engines of different complexity. His plans include the participation in the international student rocket competitions and the scientific experiments on the NAU research topics.

Across the Universe

Since the beginning of the year NAURocket has created and launched several experimental rockets. Not only the students from NAU worked on them, but also those from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, National Technical University of Ukraine “Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute”, Bogomolets National Medical University. In April near Kyiv they have launched one rocket to 600 m, and in June – two more rockets. These were the first launches of the rockets, completely manufactured by students.

Как тебе такое, Илон Маск! Украина хочет запускать больше ракет

NAURocket students with the experimental rocket

The rockets of such class can in principle reach an altitude of 2–3 km, but the size of the ground, where the launch took place, did not allow to do that. The point is that the rocket does not move strictly vertically all the time, at first up and then down. For some reason it can turn sideways. “We care very seriously about the safety of the flights, but anyway we have to keep in mind the worst variant as well, — tells Sergii Pipko. — Now the students work on the rocket, able to fly up 5 km. To launch it NAU will look for a really high-grade rocket range”.

Как тебе такое, Илон Маск! Украина хочет запускать больше ракет

The launch of the experimental rocket by NAURocket

The technical school “Noosphere Engineering School” – the project of the Noosphere association and several universities – has also launched its rockets in April at the rocket range in Dnipro. The rocket was built by the students of Oles Honchar Dnipro National University, trained by the Noosphere Engineering School, and the physicist Vadim Solntsev, mentor of the School. It was Vadim, who did most of the work.

Как тебе такое, Илон Маск! Украина хочет запускать больше ракет

The launch of the experimental rocket by Noosphere Engineering School at the rocket range in Dnipro

Countdown

“The state does not stimulate the creation of rocket carriers by private enterprises in our country,” says Natalya Borotkanych, associate professor of the NAU, organizer of the hackathon of the European Space Agency ActInSpace in Ukraine.

The private space projects have unexpectedly declared themselves around the world, showing their effectiveness, innovation and promise. New space actors, such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX or Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, now have the necessary legislative acts governing their space exploration activities. This stimulated the development of partnership between the state and the business in the space sector and rocket development in general. In Ukraine, on the contrary, according to the Law ”On Entrepreneurship”, the production and operation of carrier rockets, in particular space vehicles, can only be carried out by state-owned enterprises and organizations, and therefore new types of missiles and alternative launches remain only in projects.

Як тобі таке, Ілоне Маску! Україна хоче запускати більше ракет

Experimental rocket, created in Noosphere Engineering School

Experimental rockets are not considered space vehicles, since they do not fly into space. In theory the flight altitude of the experimental rockets can reach 100 km. Recently American organization Base 11 announced a contest: students who will build and launch a liquid-propelled rocket, able to reach the altitude of 100 km before December 30, 2021, will get $1,000,000.

Not astronomical money at all

The only organizations, who finances the development of student rockets in Ukraine, are NAU and Noosphere.

Noosphere spent about $200,000 only on its Space Engineering School, where the experimental rockets are developed. It also supports rocket modeling sport, which receives almost no money from the state. In 2015 Noosphere has organized The Europe rocket modeling Championship in Ukraine, and in 2016 — The World Championship. It cost about $400,000.

Как тебе такое, Илон Маск! Украина хочет запускать больше ракет

The launch of the experimental rocket by Noosphere Engineering School at the rocket range in Dnipro

NAU does not have so much money. The university helps more with organizational matters: it provided for NAURocket a room and some equipment. Students are advised by two laboratories: the composite materials lab and the tribology (the science studying friction) one. The purchases of materials for rockets were funded by the primary trade union organization of students and postgraduates of NAU.

To create the next, more sophisticated rocket, NAURocket will have to look for sponsors. “At scientific picnics in Warsaw we met people from the clubs like our own in Poland. What is interesting, for them this is a normal practice and almost a common courtesy — when all the expenses are covered by sponsors”, — said the chairman of the Scientific Association of students, postgraduates, doctoral students and young scientists of NAU Kseniia Semenova.

Як тобі таке, Ілоне Маску! Україна хоче запускати більше ракет

Experimental rocket by NAURocket

According to her, from September NAU plans to develop the experimental rocketry more actively. Noosphere Engineering School also has big plans: to create a standard launch vehicle, and then present all the developed rockets and satellites at all-Ukrainian and international competitions.

“Now everybody wants to work in IT sphere. But perhaps our work will motivate more people to link their lives with space technology,”— says Sergii Pipko from NAURocket.

The world space launch market is now estimated at $5.5 billion a year, while satellites production is $14 billion. In recent years, private space companies, namely SpaceX, already have a share in this market, which can compete with that of states like Russia. For comparison, while SpaceX last year has realized 18 launches, Russia has realized 17.

The creation and launching of experimental rockets is not only a way to have fun, but also an opportunity for students to hone their engineer skills, so that in the future Ukrainians could be competitive at the world level.