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Space Industry for Ukraine: Companies donate $50K each and pledge humanitarian aid to embattled country

Ukraine's flag above the city of Dnipro.
Ukraine's flag above the city of Dnipro, which has been major space industry hub since the Soviet times. (Image credit: The Presidential Administration of Ukraine)

A group of space companies is banding together to raise funds in support of Ukraine.

The new group, called Space Industry for Ukraine (SIFU), aims to provide "critical humanitarian projects" in Ukraine and surrounding areas following Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24

The group includes 18 different companies that have each donated $50,000 for projects such as medical treatment, food supply deliveries, or evacuation transportation. All projects are managed by certified non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and are expected to be deployed within the next three months.

Related: Ukrainian moon start-up volunteers tech for military use

"While space-based companies are playing a vital role through collecting and analyzing data of a defense and intelligence nature, we believe there is additional humanitarian value that our space community can provide in supporting the people and government of Ukraine," said John Serafini, CEO of the geospatial analytics company HawkEye 360, said in a statement (opens in new tab) on April 26.

As the invasion moves towards its three-month anniversary, ongoing space sanctions against Russia have affected everything from planned launches, to international scientific partnerships, with clear bottom-line impacts on the commercial space industry. 

In the SIFU release, however, numerous companies said they are glad to support Ukraine's cause and to give humanitarian support to the millions of displaced and otherwise affected individuals in the region.

Initial projects include, in the initiative's wording:

  • Acquisition, shipment, and delivery of medical supplies and food supplies to support populations throughout Ukraine and Poland.
  • Communication hardware and operating costs to enable NGOs operating in the region to maximize communication.
  • Construction and operation of mobile medical facilities for treating refugees throughout the region.
  • Supporting evacuation efforts of Ukrainian refugees.

Maxar Technologies' WorldView-3 satellite captured this image of a mass grave in the Ukrainian town of Bucha on March 31, 2022. (Image credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

"The national security space community is uniquely positioned to address the horrific atrocities playing out in Ukraine over the past several weeks," Steve Jacques, executive director of the National Security Space Association that is among the membership, said in the statement. 

"With SIFU, we intend to go beyond the bounds of traditional strategic support and provide humanitarian aid geared directly towards alleviating suffering and restoring the human dignity of those impacted by the events in Ukraine."

As of the end of April, SIFU has nearly $1 million available through member contributions, which it plans to deploy through NGOs and through representatives of the Ukrainian and Polish governments. 

Related: Mass grave near besieged Ukrainian city Mariupol spotted from space

Poland has taken in more than 3 million refugees, according to the BBC (opens in new tab). While they are allies with Ukraine today, the countries' shared history is complex. This includes centuries when western Ukraine was under Polish rule, and a period of "ethnic bloodshed" during the Second World War, as detailed in this Associated Press article (opens in new tab).

Poland, however, has spent the last several years supporting Ukraine's efforts to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and to otherwise integrate into western European relations, the Wilson Center noted in a 2018 blog post (opens in new tab). Politico suggests the nations' relationship has been defined by opposition to Russia (opens in new tab) even before the invasion, among other factors.

Participating SIFU donor companies include The Aerospace Corporation, Cognitive Space and Shield Capital. The full list of steering committee companies listed in the release includes:

  • HawkEye 360
  • National Security Space Association (NSSA)
  • ABL Space Systems
  • ARKA
  • BlackSky
  • Capella Space
  • ICEYE
  • Insight Partners
  • Leidos
  • LeoLabs
  • Maxar
  • Raytheon Intelligence & Space
  • Rebellion Defense
  • Relativity Space
  • Riverside Research
  • Rocket Lab
  • Velos
  • Viasat

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Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she tackles topics like spaceflight, diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc (opens in new tab). in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Her latest book, NASA Leadership Moments, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.