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Ukraine Seeks to Build High-Resolution Earth Observation Constellation, Subject to Funds

Image courtesy of the State Space Agency of Ukraine.

The proposed national space programme of Ukraine for 2018-2022, and prepared by the State Space Agency of Ukraine (SSAU), could be submitted to the government for consideration in April 2018, according to a source in the Ukrainian space and rocket industry, reports Interfax-Ukraine.

“At present, the agency has completed the development of the draft national space programme for the period until 2022. According to preliminary plans, the document should be submitted to the government in April,” the source told Interfax-Ukraine.

According to the source, one of the key priorities of the new space programme is the creation of a four-satellite constellation of next-generation Earth observation satellites with high resolution, most likely one meter panchromatic.

“The key priority of the programme is the creation of the national group of Earth remote sensing satellites of the next generation with high resolution. The best solution is to form in the orbit until 2022 of a group of four optically-electronic satellites operating simultaneously with a resolution of about 1 meter,” said the source, adding that, “implementing the task in many respects will depend on the budget.”

The previous SSAU budget for the national space programme of Ukraine for the period 2013-2017, and established by law by the Ukrainian cabinet and parliament, was estimated at Hrynia 1.1 billion (approximately U.S.$41.5 million), while the real funding of the SSAU space programme only amounted to about 30 percent of this amount in those years.

With this funding record, combined with endemic corruption and political instability given the ethnic tensions in Eastern Ukraine as well as the disintegrated relations with Moscow, it is likely that even if approved by the cabinet and parliament, the 2018-2022 national space programme – as well as the proposed Earth observation constellation – will remain aspirational barring a dramatic change in Ukraine’s political and economic situation.

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