Ukraine has a long and unique history in the field of aerospace technologyб going back to the early decades of the ‘space race’ in the 20th century. Past successes, however, were hampered by the lack of funding and orders, as many enterprises were traditionally designed to serve the needs of the giant Soviet military-industrial complex. Nevertheless, Ukraine remains one of the few nations with an aerospace industry, involving a full cycle of design, production and operation of advanced civil, military and cargo aircraft, as well as supplying space technology. Ukraine is home to several of the internationally known aerospace design and production facilities which trace their roots to the early pioneering days of rocket science and aviation technology:
- the Antonov design bureau – best known for designing and building the world’s largest transport plane AN-225 “Mriya”, but it also designed mid-range commercial and military transport aircraft. Tight competition, low funding available in the domestic market, and institutional transformation are among Antonov’s main challenges.
- the Pivdenne Design Bureau and Pivdenmash rocket engine production center in the city of Dnipro, best known for participating in the international space launch vehicle market after conversion from building Soviet nuclear missiles in the past. Pivdenne has successful experience in international projects with the European Space Agency Vega launch vehicle. Presently, it considers the opportunity to design and produce Ukrainian satellites to be launched in cooperation with the NASA SpaceX program.
- the Ivchenko-Progress aero-engine design bureau and the Motor Sich engine production center in Zaporizhia, best known for their defense products.
While many large companies are struggling to keep afloat, institutional reforms led to market liberalisation and the entry of private companies, mostly startups. Among private SpaceTech companies that are conquering the global market is the NASA partner Firefly Aerospace. Founded by Max Polyakov, the company develops a revolutionary new spacecraft and provides economical and convenient access to space for small payloads through the design, manufacture and operation of reliable launch vehicles.
Some smaller Ukrainian businesses became quite successful internationally in the segment of light aviation. There are several well-known Ukrainian light aircraft manufacturers, among those the helicopter design bureau and manufacturing company from Poltava DB Aerocopter Ltd and enterprise and serial production of ultralight aircraft of various modifications Aeroprakt.