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Ukraine’s First Astronaut Leonid Kadeniuk

2. September 2009 by Gregg 0 Comments

When the Soviet Union fell apart and Ukraine gained its independence, many thought that much of the infrastructure that had been built under the regime would collapse with it. This was not the case and the Ukrainian space program was a perfect example of this.

Originally established under the Soviet Space program, Ukraine’s space initiative was officially named National Space Agency of Ukraine after the country’s secession. The program finally had a chance to establish itself as a separate entity from the Soviet and Russian programs in 1995 after the launch of the Sich-1 satellite, making Ukraine the world’s tenth Space Power. Today the National Space Agency has constructed and launched a total of six satellites.

Ukraine’s first manned mission occurred in conjunction with a NASA (US), NSAU (UKR) and NASDA (Japan) joint mission in 1997. Ukrainian cosmonaut Leonid Kadeniuk was launched into space on NASA’s Columbia space shuttle for almost 16 days as part of mission STS-87.

Leonid started his career in the Soviet Air Force in 1976 and was moved later on to the Cosmonaut group. He had applied for and received citizenship of Russia after the fall of the Societ Union but returned to Ukraine in 1995 to assist with the Ukrainian Space Program. After returning from space, Leonid moved into politics. He was elected to the Ukrainian parliament in 2002.