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Friday, May 6, 2016

Ukrainians Conquering The Frontiers Of Space

By Ihor Cap,Ph.D.
Ukraine Stamp 2007 marking 50th anniversary
of first satellite launch. By Ukrposhta (Ukrposhta)
[Public domain], via  Wikimedia Commons
Serhiy Korolyov – the Ukrainian Who Conquered Space Space flight today is far different from the Space Race between the United States and the U.S.S.R. in the 1950s and 1960s. Back then, the Ukrainian-born rocket engineer and designer, Serhiy Pavlovich Korolyov (a.k.a.  Sergei Korolev) masterminded the successful launches of Sputnik and Vostok 1 projects. Sputnik was a beach ball-sized satellite launched on October 4, 1957 and Vostok 1 was a  Soviet spacecraft that launched the first human being into space on April 12, 1961. The Soviet Union maintained his anonymity allegedly because of the key role he played in these projects. This anonymity continued for decades even though the “KGB knew that there was really no need to keep his name secret”, say’s Khrushchev’s son Sergei in the October 2007 issue of the in an article entitled “How Russia lost the moon."
Others maintain it was because of his ethnic background.  Many information databases still refer to Korolyov and prefer to think of him as “Soviet” (which is frequently and mistakenly interpreted as Russian). However, Korolyov himself registered his nationality as Ukrainian when he attended the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute in 1924, says the 1973 journal “Forum” (A Ukrainian Review) in their article about “The Ukrainian Who Conquered Space.”  
Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite in the world
to be put into outer space, By U.S. Air Force photo
 (; exact source) [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons.

On April 12, 1961, Soviet Russian cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin became the first human to travel in space placing the Soviet Space Program ahead of the American one. Korolyov selected him personally for the mission. Twenty-three days later, astronaut Alan Shepard completed a sub-orbital space mission for the United States. The Soviet Union’s struggle to keep ahead of America and win the Space Race ended in 1969 when American astronaut Neil Alden Armstrong set foot on the moon for the United States of America. Korolyov’s premature death in 1966 apparently delivered a severe blow to the Soviet Space Program from which it has still not recovered. According to Olha Kopyl, director of the Korolyov Space Museum, in the January 2005 Kyiv online newspaper Den’ article “Vmity borotysya,”  only Korolyov had the “fight within him” to withstand prison, the Gulag and the “enemy of the state” label which stayed with him until his release in 1944. Full rehabilitation of his “enemy” label status arrived only in April of 1957. Forgiven because of his outstanding service to the state, he nevertheless remained an enemy. Even so, Korolyov knew the challenges before him and only Korolyov had the leadership qualities necessary “…to rally support, have people follow him, choose a strategic direction, foresee its consequences, take personal responsibility, and finally, take that risk”, concluded Olha. .More often than not, it turned out to be the correct one. By this time, the ballistic missiles created under his direction were soon to become intercontinental, and the start of the human space era was but 6 months away.  

By MASTER SGT. DAVE CASEY ([1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. The An-225 Mriya (Ukrainian:  Мрія  NATO reporting name: 'Cossack') is a strategic airlift transport aircraft which was built by the Antonov Design Bureau, Ukraine. It is the world's largest fixed-wing aircraft. The design, built to transport the Buran orbiter, was an enlargement of the successful An-124 Ruslan. Mriya ( Мрія ) means "Dream" (Inspiration) in Ukrainian.
Ukraine – a Hotbed of Astronauts Many Ukrainians contributed to the study of rocket flight.  For example, the same Forum (A Ukrainian Review) journal points out elsewhere that:
Mykola Kibalchich (who made a bomb that assassinated Russian Tsar Alexander II) while in prison in 1881 designed a rocket-powered spaceship. His words, “I am preparing this design in prison, a few days before I am to die,” made a deep impression on young Serhiy Korolov. Incidentally, Korolov, according to Vladimirov, was arrested in 1938 and spent time in a Stalin prison.
     Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the father of Russian space study, apparently traces Ukrainian ancestry through his mother.
     Yuri Kondratiuk (1900-1942) from Lutsk, Ukraine, was also an early researcher in rocketry. His 1929 book The Conquest of Interplanetary Space provided the two-stage rocke[t] (sic) theory to reach the moon, which was followed precisely by the United States in its historic moon landing on July 20, 1969.
Pavlo Romanovych Popovych, (a.k.a. Pavel Romanovich Popovich), the first Soviet Ukrainian astronaut to visit space, consciously deliberated on the number of Ukrainians that flew to space, reports  Ihor Holod in the “Moloda Halychyna” (“MH”) August 8, 2002 newspaper interview with him entitled ”Pershym buv ne Haharin, a Popovych” (Gagarin was not first, but Popovych). According to Popovych, 12 ethnic Ukrainians have seen planet Earth from space as well as 16 representatives of other national minorities from Ukraine. Many more died because of the careless behavior of their colleagues in the aviation and rocket tests.
Mykola Kibalchich (a.k.a. Nikolai Ivanovich Kibalchich) – rocket propulsion pioneer, Yuri Vasilievich Kondratyuk (real name Oleksandr Gnatovich Shargei) – astronautics and spaceflight pioneer, Serhiy Pavlovich Korolyov (a.k.a. Sergey Korolev or Sergei Korolev) – aircraft/rocket engineer and designer, Volodymyr Chelomey (a.k.a. Vladimir Nikolayevich Chelomey) – physicist, rocket engineer and satellite designer, Mykhailo Yanhel (a.k.a. Mikhail Kuzmich Yangel) – missile and satellite designer Valentyn Petrovych Hlushko (a.k.a. Valentin Petrovich Glushko) – creator of the Proton rocket and Energia/Buran reusable space shuttle, and Hlib Lozyno-Lozynskiy (a.k.a. Gleb Evgeniyevich Lozino-Lozinskiy), - Kyiv (a.k.a. Kiev)-born "Spiral" and space shuttle Buran designer, all Ukrainians. Even Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky – the father of theoretical astronautics had some Ukrainian in his blood, as well as some Russian, Polish and Tatar too. His brother seemed more certain of his Ukrainian heritage because he always used his customary signature, “Tsiolkovsky-Nalyvaiko”, which gives away his Ukrainian Kozak lineage, said Popovych in his “MH” interview.
Independent Ukraine Space Missions
The Chinese were the first to fire rockets in battle against the Mongol hordes in 1232. The term itself comes from the Italian word Rocchetta (i.e., little fuse) that was created by the Italian artificer Muratino in 1379. Ukrainian Zaporozhian Kozaks (Cossacks) demonstrated their ingenuity with rocket technology in their battles with the Crimean Tatars as early as 1516. Twentieth century Ukrainian expertise lifted these rockets into space under the flag of the Soviet Union. The infamous Dnipropetrovs’k rocket carriers (MH, August 8, 2002, p. 31.) launched over 400 space apparatuses’ into orbit. That changed as of 1991.  Ukrainians now conduct their space missions under the flag of independent Ukraine but the Dnipropetrovs’k industrial and missile facilities still figure prominently in the research and planning of these missions. Leonid K. Kadenyuk was the first person to fly in space under the blue and yellow flag of Ukraine on May 13, 1997. 

Leonid K. Kadenyuk, By Post of Ukraine / Укрпошта (scanned by Vizu) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The National Space Agency of Ukraine made 97 vehicle launches during 1991-2007, accounting for 12% of all worldwide space launches. Ukrainian launches typically take place from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur and Russia’s Plesetsk Cosmodromes, and the partially owned international mobile platform, Sea Launch.
Stamp of Ukraine 2013 . By Укрпошта [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In 1995, Ukraine was the tenth country in the world to join the ranks of other space powers capable of launching their own satellites. (Wikipedia, see National Space Agency of Ukraine) By 2009, Ukraine launches 123 space apparatuses’ into orbit placing Ukraine fourth in the world, after Russia, USA, France and China sharing third place, in terms of rocket-carrier payloads launched, according to the latest National Space Agency of Ukraine report. That's 9 rocket launches more than the previous year (See Novynar, Jan. 22, 2010 article, “Nauka ta zdorovya” [Science and health])  and a testament to the reliability of Ukrainian rocketry and science. Ukraine not only intends to maintain its space power status in the world, it is boldly continuing its trek to conquer the frontiers of space.

Ukraine Aerospace, Rocket, and Military Technology

Author Information:
Ihor Cap, Ph.D., Ihor is a Slavic Studies graduate from the University of Ottawa and a member of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in Canada. 
This article first appeared January 28, 2010 in