SpaceX, the world's leading private space exploration company headed by Elon Musk, has successfully launched the Sich 2-30, the first Ukrainian satellite in orbit in a decade.
Transporter-3 rideshare mission on Jan. 13 saw a Falcon 9 space vehicle take off at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, carrying a total of 105 various spacecraft -- mostly microsatellites and orbital transfer vehicles, according to SpaceX.
Sich 2-30 is an Earth observation satellite built in 2019 by the Yuzhmash, the Dnipro-based factory, one of the world's leading spacecraft components production centers plunged into a decades-long, severe crisis following the fall of the Soviet Union.
Falcon 9, the world's first reusable, two-stage rocket, brought the Ukrainian satellite to its heliosynchronous orbit around the Earth nearly an hour and a half after the launch.
According to Ukraine's State Space Agency, this 180-kilogram satellite is designed to be orbiting at altitudes between 663 and 682 kilometers and take pictures of the Earth in visible and infrared bands. It also carries a 10-gigabyte hard drive and is capable of transmitting data to its mission control center in Ukraine at the rate of 30.72 megabits per second.
The satellite is going to collect data for science and the military in the next five years, according to the agency.
"(The Sich will be operated) to monitor the use of agricultural lands, vegetation, woods, water resources, emergency management," said Volodymyr Taftai, the space agency's head, on Jan. 13.
"In other words, it's a civilian satellite. At the same time, it will give an opportunity to get pretty qualitative data on the construction of engineering structures, the movement of military forces, warships, and so on."
The launch is the brightest moment for Ukraine's decaying space industry in over a decade. The country hasn't been present in the Earth orbit since December 2012 when it lost contact with its only satellite Sich-2. Launched in 2011 from a Russian spaceport, Sich stayed active for just a year.
Following the problematic construction of the new device in Dnipro and numerous tests, the Ukrainian in early 2021 finally announced a deal with SpaceX to set the Ukrainian satellite into orbit at nearly $1 million.
Approximately at 8:15 p.m. Kyiv time, the Sich flew over the Ukrainian territory and made contact with its mission control center.