The owner of an aerospace firm FireFly Poles Max wants to revive the Ukrainian space

Владелец аэрокосмической компании FireFly Макс Поляков хочет возродить украинский космос

Ukrainian Max Polyakov making the U.S. business and investing in Ukraine. As the success of space startup FireFly Aerospace help the revival of the Ukrainian space.

The us private Aerospace company FireFly, which is owned by Ukrainian businessman Max Polyakov, in early may, successfully conducted tests of the second stage of its carrier rocket light class Alpha. This is another step brought the company to the main goal – the first commercial launch of the Alpha, scheduled for December this year. As reported in an interview special Max Polyakov, in the nearest plans of FireFly to do for 8 missiles per year, and in the future to increase this figure to 24. For this you need to build a second factory, a place where already looking for in Florida.

Max Polyakov builds boosters FireFly in the USA and in Ukraine

Head office, production and design office of the company located in Austin, Texas. In 2018, they added office and R&D center FireFly at home max Polyakov in Ukraine, in the Dnieper river (former Dnepropetrovsk). It is the Dnieper river is considered the cradle of Ukrainian space industry. It and to this day the largest enterprise of rocket-space industry of Yuzhnoye, Yuzhmash, Khartron.

The Max Polyakov was born and raised in Zaporozhye. His childhood fascination with space was no accident, because the parents worked in the Zaporozhye branch Hartron developing management system and other missile electronics. However, they advised the son to follow in his footsteps, as the profession of engineer in dashing 90-e was barely possible to make ends meet.

At the insistence of the mother Max Poles arrived in Zaporozhye medical Institute. There, in the 4th year, the programme for the exchange of students he first went abroad, to Canada. This trip changed his Outlook and views on life. The contrast between the bright prosperous Western country and morose post-Soviet helped to determine the kind of further studies. Max Polyakov went into business. From 2001 to 2012 he has built several successful IT companies, some of which are still working in the world’s largest corporations. Experience of a businessman and thinking of an engineer, inherited from parents, helped to obtain a master’s degree in Economics and several patents.

The thirst for innovation and an insatiable passion for space led max Polyakov in Silicon valley. In 2012 he moved to Menlo Park, California, where he became one of the founders and managing partner of Venture Fund Noosphere Ventures Partners LP. The Fund invests in high-tech startups in the field of space development, medical research, tele – and Internet marketing industry.

Today, NVP’s portfolio includes about a dozen companies, including FireFly and Aerospace.

Aerospace company in 2014 has created an American rocket engineer Tom Markusic. His track record was already number at that time, these employers, like US air force, NASA, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin. Markusic was one of those who, along with Elon Musk watched the first launch of the Falcon rocket, four of which failed, before the “Falcon” soared. The desire to create their own rocket grew to the size of the company.

Not everything went smoothly at first. The first prototypes of the FireFly Alpha is significantly different from the present, had less carrying capacity and demanded higher production costs.

In the end, the money that Markusic managed to attract at the start, lasted only two years, and then the problems started. The construction of the missiles required a budget of several million $ per month, so when the main investor suddenly changed his mood and stopped funding, the project was on the verge of closing.

The Max Polyakov, who believed in FireFly, and since then does everything for its success.

In just two years the company has progressed considerably further than the previous three. Effort by max Polyakov to work able to connect a Ukrainian specialists, to open Ukrainian office FireFly, R&D center with the largest 3D printer in the Ukraine. Joint Ukrainian-American experience allowed:

• change the design of the rocket is Alpha, to make it easier through the use of body parts from carbon composite;

• to increase the load capacity to 1000 kg in Leo and 630 kg per MTR;

• reduce the cost of production of the first and second stages.

• continue work to establish a secondary booster Beta with a capacity of 4 and 3 tons in Leo and SSO, and manned rocketplane Gamma.

FireFly in the lunar program NASA

Also, according to the last year max Polyakov was selected number 9 of the 50 companies to participate in a commercial maintenance program lunar payloads NASA CLPS, which is due to begin in 2020. Interestingly, in the list of missed SpaceX and Blue Origin, also ordered the selection and of the “heavyweights” only NASA has selected Lockheed Martin.

The lunar program was named Artemis, after the goddess of the moon Artemis, who in Greek mythology was the sister of Apollo. Recall that the first lunar program of the USA in 60-70 years of last century was called Apollo.

In the material it is reported that in the framework of Artemis, NASA will award multiple contracts for the lunar mission within the next 10 years. The selection considered only those companies that agreed to deliver the first mission by the end of 2021.

This is not the first attempt by the US to return to the moon. In 2009 Google announced the Google Lunar X Prize – a competition with a reward of $30 million to the first person who put a certain weight on the moon. Later the project was closed, but managed to stimulate the creation of companies that are building the lunar modules. About the new program CLPS Director of NASA Jim Brandenstein says: “We’re going to the moon to stay.”

That is, today, NASA worked through the concept of lunar and lunar bases that they could then go on to Mars.

According to Tom Markusica, the contract with NASA is proof of the viability of technical approach, business plan and resources FireFly. Together they form the strategy of a full cycle, which allows you to integrate successfully into the space market. Today the company max Polyakov has more than 50 pre-orders for the FireFly Alpha launch. Among the customers other than NASA:

  • U.S. Department of defense;
  • the British manufacturer SSTL satellites sign a contract for 6 runs.
  • the Italian company D-Orbit, signed with FireFly multi-year agreement to hold exclusive rights on the sale of missiles and the provision of services to launch in the European market segment;
  • Airbus, satellites which will orbit the first rocket FireFly Alpha.

And this is only the beginning. After the construction of the plant in Florida, the production of Alpha will increase to 2 units per month. This means that you will need to expand the staff. Today in Austin, there are 180 people in the river – 140. However, the lack of intelligent professionals in Ukraine can be already observed.

Ukraine is sorely in need of young engineers and scientists

Once the rich Ukrainian heritage of obsolete space, with him getting old and the frames. New not in a hurry to emerge, as the industry is fully state owned and subsidized. And it does not stimulate. The average age of employees of Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash 45 years, and the salary is 300-400$. At the same time, enterprises are not loaded to full capacity due to lack of orders. And do not miss them due to the lack of new competitive developments.

Today, Ukraine boasts the participation in three major international space projects, two of which Antares and Vega, developing the engines of the first and fourth steps. The third project “Sea launch”, reports “League.News”, after 2021 intends to decommission Ukrainian rocket “Zenit” and replace it with more modern Russian development. The same fate, according to max Polyakov, soon awaits a converted CB “southern” Soviet military rocket motor for Vega, which is poisonous and does not meet European standards.

In spite of heavy for the space industry of Ukraine time, the government is in no hurry to open the door to private companies that could radically change the situation. In other words, max Polyakov may not fully build in Ukraine a rocket, as in law it is the exclusive prerogative of the state. And no one in the Pro-government offices in no hurry to change anything, methodically sawing the budget allocated to the Ukrkosmos.

However, Max Polyakov believes in the high-tech future of their country and it builds the Foundation for a new round of development of rocketry and innovative technologies. At the initiative of a businessman in the river created an engineering school, “Noosfera” and non-commercial public Association “Noosphere”, the activities of which is to stimulate young people’s interest in space and high technology.

Thanks to the Noosphere and max Polyakov in Ukraine for several years and regularly hosts international hackathon space innovation, family festivals, robotics competitions in flying sport, as well as engineering startups challenge them. Vernadsky. The contest in 2015 that attracts dozens of talented young people who demonstrate their inventions to the distinguished jury. Best receive grants to further the development of projects and support of mentors.

In an interview, “” at the end of last year, Max Polyakov said he plans to build on the basis of an engineering school of the Noosphere technical College, who have produced highly qualified engineers and scientists, solving thus the problem of teacher shortages. After all, just forming a new layer of Ukrainian science and engineering, it is possible to revive the Ukrainian space and return to Ukraine, the glorious name of space power.