As it turned out, a full-scale war in Ukraine will affect almost all countries of the world in one way or another. As a result of the thwarted sowing campaign and the blockade of Ukrainian ports on the Black and Azov Seas, a global food crisis is expected, which will potentially lead to numerous casualties in Africa. And due to the lack of unique Ukrainian An-124 Ruslan aircraft, some space companies and agencies will face problems. This is reported by Spacenews.
The thing is that in addition to small satellites, which SpaceX launches in bundles of almost a few dozen pieces, there are also large and heavy satellites, primarily for communication, which are launched into geostationary orbit. Typically, such satellites are assembled at the company’s production centers and then delivered to the launch site… correctly, by cargo aircraft. And quite a large part of these very valuable, requiring careful treatment products were transported by An-124 aircraft.
As you already know, part of the Ukrainian An-124 was damaged during the battles for Hostomel, and Russian An-124s are not available due to sanctions and arrest imposed on them at the request of the Antonov State Enterprise. So in some cases, for example for launches from the French spaceport Cours, manufacturers will have to look for an alternative to the An-124.
This can be delivery by sea or road transport, if we are talking about manufacturers from the United States. In any case, it is much slower and requires additional measures for protection, insurance and so on. As a result, the cost of projects will increase, as will the execution time, which may lead to the postponement of some launches.
Meanwhile, aircraft manufacturers are considering certifying other large cargo aircraft to transport GEO satellites. Among the options there is Airbus 300-600ST Beluga, which has participated in several similar deliveries. But there are not so many Belugas. From 1992 to 1999 only 5 such aircraft were built.
“We are monitoring the situation closely together with our partners, customers, and suppliers with regard to the transport of satellites,” Airbus Defence and Space spokesperson Ralph Heinrich said.
“We are continuing our preparations for the Beluga Transport project. It is too early to draw any conclusions from the situation for the moment.”
How long it takes to prepare the Airbus 300-600ST Beluga for certification is still unclear, as it is unclear how many An-124 Ruslan aircraft are available for rent in the world and where they are now.