- What projects were at YUZHMASH during your work as general director?
There were joint work with the International Space Company Cosmotras. We made a satellite for the Egyptians – EgyptSat. The great merit in organizing this project belongs to the President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma. At that time, there was a close relationship between Ukraine and Egypt.
The satellite was made without the involvement of foreign enterprises, exclusively by Ukrainian enterprises. Egyptian specialists were trained at the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau and at YUZHMASH. Specially for satellite, we equipped a control center. All the tasks that were assigned to our experts were completed, the Egyptians were satisfied.
It is ironic that the first satellite in the already independent Ukraine turned out to be a commercial one made for Egypt. By the way, the press often calls the first Ukrainian satellite Sich-1, but, in fact, the first Ukrainian satellite, performed only by forces of independent Ukraine and for Ukraine, was Sich-2.
- You were at the head of the plant when the work on the Sea Launch program began. Tell us about this project.
In the implementation of this project, the great merit of Yuri Pavlovich Semenov from RSC Energia company, he had a good relationship with Boeing. At that time, the Zenit rocket was the most suitable, because, before choosing it, the Russians reviewed all the possible options among their missiles, but the Zenith was the best option.
The rocket was made at YUZHMASH, the first-stage engine was manufactured in Khimki. At that time, I repeat, it was the best rocket, it has a fully automated launch, which the Americans really liked. The Sea Launch project included 5 enterprises from 4 countries.
- If you compare with the modern rocket Ilona Mask, what is the technological gap?
At that time, Zenit rocket launcher was the best missile, although it was created in 1981, you can imagine this enormous technological reserve, given that now it is practically not inferior to modern missiles. Our rocket launchers went through a lot of stages to Mask, they passed that period, you can tell with their sweat and blood, and sometimes even their lives. We have another product that has not yet been surpassed by anyone in the world – this is the 15A18M machine. It is unique, so far no one has been able to repeat its characteristics. Some of them are still in service in Russia. I believe that we did the right thing, that removed them. Nuclear weapons are no joke. At that time, we had 183 missiles with nuclear warheads on alert.
- What are the prospects for the Sea Launch program?
It all depends on the political situation. Cooperation is capable of producing the Zenit rocket now.
- What do you think can now be changed in the space industry?
I believe that now we need to raise the combat theme, including satellites, to a serious level. For example, using the Sich satellite, you can easily see where the enemy’s tank is located. I believe that we should make our own military missile. In order to make a good operational rocket, our capacities are enough for us at 90%.
- How do you feel about new Ukrainian companies such as FireFly Aerospace and Noosphere?
Positive, let them develop. But their activities should still be under control. A missile is a weapon, depending on what to put on it, it will carry out such a task.
- How has begun producing the chassis at YUZHMASH ?
In the 90-ies of hope for the rockets were small, they even planned to move to production aircraft. I have not been to that time a Director. Kuchma had good relations with the chief designer of ANTK Antonov, Peter Vasilyevich by Balabuev. At that time only began to produce An-140 aircraft, the chassis they were produced in Samara. At Yuzhmash was by that time experience with the Titan, and we started to do the chassis first for the An-140, and then for the An-148.
- In Your opinion what are the prospects of space industry in Ukraine?
Now is a good idea. I was taught that in Ukraine it is impossible to build a spaceport on the ground, there is no such places where no risk would fall the first step. We need to concentrate on the production of missiles with the air start, for example, in America there is a similar rocket “Pegasus”. Now a lot of aircraft manufactured by Antonov on the basis of which it would be possible to do it. We Lubomyr Sabadosa sent a letter to Vladimir Zelensky with this proposal, but the answer is still no.
The problem is that everybody wants to create at once large and powerful, for example, “Zenit”. And you should start small, step by step – including engineering backlog, which is in Ukraine.
- Now You are promoting the interests of YUZHMASH?
Now we have created a public space organization. Sent the first letter to the President of Ukraine, in which he painted his proposal on the following issues: the creation of a missile with air start; the creation of small satellites; the creation of combat missiles. For the implementation of all these projects requires cooperation of Ukrainian enterprises, including the Yuzhmash.