Lack of Antonovs may delay satellite launches

The Russian-Ukrainian war caused a shortage of wide-body aircraft to deliver large satellites to the launch site. Antonov aircraft are maximally loaded. The global industry is looking for a replacement for Russian carriers.

Antonov Corporation aircraft provide satellite transportation. Source:

Shortage of Antonov aircraft

The Russian-Ukrainian war has affected the global space industry in various ways. One of them is delays in the transportation of large satellites. Antonov Corporation has lost the flagship of its fleet — Mriya. And the Russian “Ruslan” aircraft are under sanctions.

Not all modern satellites have a mass of less than 100 kg. Many of them weigh 6-8 tons and have the appropriate dimensions. And the spaceports from which these giants can be launched may be on the other side of the world. In recent years, satellite transportation by wide-body aircraft manufactured by the Ukrainian Antonov Design Bureau has become increasingly popular among operators.

The only problem is that they are exploited by four countries in the world. Two of them are in a state of war, and Russian aircraft are not available for transportation at all. They are now hurriedly looking for a replacement. In particular, the European satellite SES-22, which they want to launch from Cape Canaveral, is now planning to be transported from the Old World to Florida not by plane, but by sea.

How will the situation develop

At the same time, the Ukrainian Antonov aircraft are quite available for use. At least five of them had flown from the airfield in Gostomel to Europe before the start of the war. Now their cargo transportation is scheduled for many months ahead. Therefore, we can hope that the most important satellite launches will still be carried out on time. And the corporation will be able to survive this crisis.

However, the flagship of the Antonov State Enterprise’s air fleet was lost in Gostomel. The world’s largest AN-225 Mriya aircraft was destroyed by Russian troops. Now there are intentions to restore it, but there are no concrete solutions yet. 

At the same time, aircraft of non-Ukrainian production certified for the transportation of bulky cargo now simply do not exist in the world. Work is urgently underway to certify Airbus Beluga. This plane has already carried modules for the International Space Station.

According to

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