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Launcher relocates its Ukraine-based staff to Sofia, Bulgaria.

February 24, 2022

By Max Haot, Founder & CEO, Launcher

I’m distraught by the unprovoked Russian aggression in Ukraine. We are providing all of the necessary support we can think of to our team, partners, and their families and communities in Ukraine.

Launcher has a subsidiary office in Dnipro, Ukraine consisting of eleven engineers and five support team members. This amazing engineering team has been contributing to our E-2 liquid rocket engine design with permission via U.S. State Department Technical Assistance Agreement.

In the last 12 months, Launcher has also grown to 50 team members at our HQ in Hawthorne (Los Angeles, CA). 

As a precaution given the escalating political situation, during the last few weeks, we successfully relocated our Ukraine staff to Sofia, Bulgaria, where we opened a new Launcher Europe office. We also invited their immediate family to join them in this move and funded their relocation expenses. We continue to encourage and support five of the support staff and one engineer who decided to remain in Ukraine. 

Our Launcher Ukraine team, now based at our European office in Sofia, Bulgaria (2/2/22)

I have personally had the chance to work with Ukrainian engineers since 2005, first for my companies Livestream and Mevo where we built software engineering teams in Ukraine. In 2014, we experienced the first threat to our team members and relocated them to Montenegro as a precaution. I wrote this blog post at the time:

When I started Launcher in 2017, with my understanding of the historical aerospace and propulsion talent of Ukraine, combined with experiencing firsthand the quality of their character and engineering skill in the Mevo and Livestream teams, it was clear that creating partnerships in Ukraine to import their design and skill to the U.S., in compliance with U.S. export control (ITAR) requirements, would be a key differentiator in Launcher’s strategy to achieve unmatched high-performance propulsion standards. It is also beneficial to the United States propulsion technology base to increase our nation’s capability in oxidizer-rich staged combustion liquid rocket engines by importing key engineering talent and designs.

As part of this strategy, we also hired our Chief Engineer in Ukraine, Igor Nikishchenko (Blog post announcement). Igor has 30+ years in oxidizer-rich staged combustion engines development and has been US-based since 2018 with a Permanent Resident Status.

For the world’s highest performance closed-cycle rocket engine turbopump designs, we licensed Soviet heritage designs from Yuzhnoye in Ukraine (RD-8 Engine). Our development program no longer has dependencies on deliverables from Yuzhnoye in Ukraine since the royalty-free designs have all been received and the pump is now 3D printed at our HQ in the U.S. and has been successfully tested at NASA Stennis Space Center. 

Launcher is currently and has been majority U.S.-owned, with no investment ties to Ukraine or Russia.

Our Orbiter and Light product development continue to meet the schedule expectations of our customers and suppliers.

Max Haot
Founder & CEO

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