The Yuzhny Design Bureau of Ukraine reported successful fire tests of the third stage of the Cyclone-4 launch vehicle it is developing.

“Firing tests of the stage of the launch vehicle as a whole were carried out - the third stage of the launch vehicle of the middle class“ Cyclone-4 ”was burned, designed by Yuzhnoye Design Bureau and manufactured at Yuzhmash. These are the final and most important tests before the first flight tests of the third stage of the Cyclone-4 launch vehicle - it will work directly in space and put satellites to the target point, ”the statement said on the company's Facebook page.

  • Tests of the third stage of the Cyclone-4 launch vehicle
  • © State Space Agency of Ukraine

In the "South" noted that such tests were carried out for the first time since the independence of Ukraine. The work of all systems during the tests in the bureau was called "excellent". The text of the message was also accompanied by a photograph in which the tests of the step were allegedly captured. Later, a video was also posted.

Failed project

The Cyclone-4 launch vehicle is a modified version of the Soviet Cyclone-3 rocket, which was developed at the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau in the 1970s. It is intended for launching into circular, geostationary and solar-synchronous orbits of spacecraft for various purposes.

The project began in 2003, when Ukraine and Brazil entered into an agreement on the creation of a joint venture Alcântara cyclone space. In accordance with the agreement, it was assumed that the Ukrainian Cyclones will be launched from the Brazilian cosmodrome of Alcantara. Thus, Brazil intended to gain access to space technology, and Ukraine - profitable contracts for its enterprises. The conclusion of the transaction required ratification in the parliaments of the two countries, which was successfully carried out in 2004.

The first launch of Cyclone-4 was supposed to take place in 2006, however, due to a number of problems, the start was postponed to 2009, but the developer did not manage to meet these deadlines - in 2010, Yuzhny only conducted preliminary tests of the engine for the third rocket stages, about any launches there was still no talk.

  • View of the Alcantara Cosmodrome
  • Reuters
  • © Adriano Machado

As a result, the first launch of the rocket was repeatedly postponed until, in 2015, Brazil unilaterally announced that it was leaving the project. The decision to break the agreement was made by the then president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, based on the conclusion of experts who considered it inappropriate to continue participating in the project.

“The problems overlapped,” said the head of the Space Policy and Strategic Investment Division of the Brazilian Space Agency, Petronio Noronha de Souza, then. “In budgetary issues and in technological aspects, in Brazilian-Ukrainian relations, as well as in the search for a real market, difficulties arose.”

In addition, the Ukrainian-Brazilian company was unable to conclude a contract for the launch of satellites of the telecommunications company Iridium, although it was originally planned that this would be the main source of income.

Due to the breakdown of the international agreement, according to Yuzhny estimates, Ukraine incurred losses of about $ 806 million. At the same time, the agreement concluded in 2003 did not provide for any sanctions for non-compliance by the parties, therefore the Brazilian Space Agency refused negotiations with Kiev on cost compensation due to termination of cooperation.

After Brazil left the project, Kiev began to look for other partners. The option of cooperation with the United States was considered, but there was no interest in the Cyclones. Various options for cooperation in this area with Mexico were discussed, but the Mexicans eventually abandoned this idea.

According to the doctor of military sciences Konstantin Sivkov, Cyclone-4 itself is an interesting project. However, Ukraine must first complete the development of the rocket, and this can take a lot of time.

“To begin with, they need to be brought to mind, since there are control system issues that are quite complicated in spacecraft. It will be very difficult for Kiev to ensure military or civilian use of these missiles, ”the expert said.

Theft and loss

The Yuzhnoye CB itself, after the collapse of the USSR, is going through hard times. In 2018, on the occasion of the 64th anniversary of the enterprise, its team created an alternative site, which describes the difficult condition in which the legendary design bureau has found itself today. Mention is also made of the Cyclone-4 project, which is characterized by the authors of the site only as a “failure." The authors note that on the fact of embezzlement of funds allocated to the Cyclone, the prosecutor's office opened a criminal case.

In addition, the creators of the portal remind of the materials of the American media, which say that the DPRK owes its success in rocket science to the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau, which supposedly transferred Pyongyang its technology.

  • Design Bureau "South"
  • © State Space Agency of Ukraine

The collective blamed the current leader Alexander Degtyarev for the troubles of the enterprise. By the way, in 2016 Degtyarev was fired from his post for billions of dollars in losses, but in the same year, through the court, he was able to cancel this decision and regained the position of general director.

According to Sivkov, the crisis in the industry and the corruption that pervades it led to the fact that the development of Cyclone-4 took so much time. He added that over the post-Soviet years, Ukraine has largely lost its scientific and production potential.

Meanwhile, the United States is showing interest in this industry in Ukraine. The military historian Yuriy Knutov in an interview with RT recalled that in 2019, Donald Winter, strategic adviser to the President of the United States on reforming the military-industrial complex of Ukraine, held several meetings with the top leadership of Ukraine, including Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman. Winter is expected to visit Kiev in September.

In the past, this American official ran a number of US defense and aerospace enterprises. According to the expert, such close contacts may indicate that Washington is trying to intervene in the key defense enterprises of Ukraine.

“In June, Donald Winter, strategic adviser to the president of the United States on reforming the military-industrial complex, arrived in Ukraine with a visit to reformat Ukroboronservis. It is important to note that Winter previously led the company, which built three reconnaissance satellites in the United States, developed engines, including for the lunar program. I think that the Americans will help to develop not only this system, but also to make weapons that Ukraine does not have, because the United States wants to oust Russia from the arms market, ”Knutov said.

In turn, Konstantin Sivkov believes that Western investment will not be able to help Ukraine revive the lost scientific and industrial potential, since the money provided to Kiev will be stolen.

“It is useless to pour water into a barrel that has no bottom. Western investments will be accepted, driven away, as a result, nothing will remain of them. In addition, in Ukraine there were no scientific and technical personnel, and schools were destroyed, ”the expert concluded.