Ukraine Seeking ESA Membership

The chairman of Ukraine’s space agency, Yuri Radchenko. said last week his nation is seeking membership in the European Space Agency (ESA).

“Today, we held talks with the Head of the European Space Agency on this matter,” he explained. “The strategy and the tactics on the matter have been worked out. It is required to fulfill a number of conditions to become a member of the European Space Agency.”

He said the membership could be secured within “a reasonable” timeframe.

ESA Director General Jan Dietrich Woerner said that formal talks with Ukraine about membership had not begun yet.

“We have several countries asking for being a member of European Space Agency. To become a member is a rather complicated issue,” Woerner said, adding that the process has not been started for Ukraine. “I think it our necessity as humans on earth to cooperate worldwide. But concerning Ukraine, I cannot give you any answer at this time.”

ESA has 22 full member nations and Canada as an associate member. The space agency also has signed formal agreements to cooperate at various levels with 10 other nations.

ESA has a three-step process for nations to become full members. Ukraine took the first step in 2008 when it signed a cooperation agreement with ESA that allowed for limited collaboration with a low funding level on Ukraine’s part.

Ukraine and ESA have not progressed to the second step, which is a European Cooperating State (ECS) agreement. Ukraine’s financial commitment would increase, but it would be lower than that of a member state. Ukraine would be able to participate in almost all ESA programs, and Ukrainian companies would be eligible to bid on procurement contracts.

The third step is the Plan For European Cooperating State (PECS). This five-year program would be aimed at improving Ukraine’s space industry.

At the end of the PECS agreement, Ukraine could begin negotiations for full membership or sign another PECS agreement.

A focus on obtaining ESA membership makes sense given turmoil that has engulfed Ukraine’s space sector. Ukraine has a considerable space industrial base left over from the Soviet Union. However, in recent years, the industry has been under strain due to tensions with Russia over the annexation of Crimea and the occupation of eastern Ukraine.

Russia has ended a joint program under which Soviet-era ballistic missiles were converted into the Dnepr satellite launch vehicles. Russia has also said it is no longer interested in purchasing Zenit boosters, which is one of Ukraine’s major space products.


  • Kapitalist

    If ESA had been interested, they’d done it 25 years ago.

  • Steve Ksiazek

    The next step requires Ukraine to fund the ESA with real money. That’s something they don’t have unless they will use part of the IMF funds that are barely keeping the country afloat as it is. What is the state of the Ukraine space infrastructure. How much ability to they have to even fulfill their contract with Orbital ?

  • Jeff2Space

    How many other countries fund ESA with “real money” as opposed to making contributions to the program in terms of manpower, hardware, and etc?

  • JamesG

    Of they just want to make a political statement.

  • windbourne

    is that the one where it is suspect that a Russian drone caused that?

  • Kapitalist

    Fires are said, you know on some sites online FWIW, to have started at two places at once. That could be bad luck NOT! Somehow they did manage to evacuate, although it was in range of part of a city. No one harmed, it’s said. 20,000 evacuated, I’ve read. Worst since Chernobyl. A large area must still be potentially mined by undetonated explosives.

    It would certainly be a very tempting target to bomb! Such a huge concentration of anti-tank and anti-aircraft rocketry and other ammunition in huge quantity, all vulnerably put in one and the same place. In a country at war. Ukraine must be big on the bomb buying market right now, trying to restock. I think most of it was made in the Ukraine and Russia, so it might be hard to resupply.

    I suppose those projectiles flying in curved and spiraled trajectories are solid fuel engines ignited by the heat. Many times more should’ve simply exploded where they were.

  • JamesG

    I doubt that was their only depot. And I doubt it will have a big strategic.. ah, impact (sorry). The Ukrainian conflict is rarely high intensity in that there aren’t sustained large scale tank battles and artillery duels. Much of their stocks are old, really really old. There’s video of burnt 115mm shell cases stacked like cordwood (!?!?) that must be 40yrs. old.

  • Kapitalist

    All public information from Russia and Ukraine is miserably unreliable. I think it is because of a cultural misunderstanding. They don’t mind myths and lies at all over there. They use and appreciate them as horoscopical UFO-abduction entertainment, that which we in the West mistake as news or facts. Because we are so easy to fool. I’ve read that almost all of their ammunition was stored there.

    40 years old is nothing for the ex-Soviet military! Putin has gotten quite some newer better stuff, but Ukraine, no they haven’t invested anything in their military. They are stuck with what they had in the 1980s, most of which was outdated already then, when they surrendered the cold war. But, now it’s springtime, time to clean out the old wardrobe anyway!

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Ukraine needs to start integrating with the West, trial membership in the ESA is a good way to start. Ukraine has in house experience as well as access to the Soviet past to come to the table with. Anything that will give the Ukrainian government training and success in governing without the use of gangsterism backed by intelligence agencies is just what the Dr ordered for Ukraine. The ESA will need the power to eject Ukraine should she lapase back into the Russian/Novo-Soviet sphere.

  • The problem is they don’t want training and success and don’t want to rule without use of gangsterism. Just the same people using a new words.

  • Scythian

    Ukraine is already cooperating with Canada. Recently they signed the agreement with Maritime Launch Services to build a new spaceport in Nova Scotia and build Cyclone-4M rockets that will be launched from this spaceport. BTW, I noticed some Russian trolls in the comments below, be aware.

    Yuzhnoye Design Office along with Yuzhmash of Ukraine will be supplying MLS with a new variant of the Cyclone rocket, the 4M, and CEO John Isella had previously told SpaceQ of the new design, “the Cyclone 4 upper stage and fairing remain unchanged and the first stage is now derived from the Zenit family of vehicles using an existing Lox-RP engine that is produced in Ukraine. So a 2 stage vehicle, Lox-RP first stage.”

    Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash will have several roles beyond providing the Cyclone 4M rocket according to Isella including “mission operations at the launch site, launch site design (vehicle specific systems, not general infrastructure), mission integration, mission unique vehicle accommodations including dispenser design, (and) test and manufacture if required for a given mission.”

    Isella said MLS hopes that it can get through the “regulatory processes, approvals and site planning” so that after ground breaking next year the first launch from the new Spaceport could happen within two years in 2020. MLS is hoping to launch eight rockets a year by 2022.