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Out-of-this-world What the Swiss are doing in space

The Swiss space sector is an important part of the European and worldwide space industry, and it’s a booming business that is expected to grow by 5% per year in the next 20 years.

Europe’s largest independent supplier of space subsystems and components (RUAG Spaceexternal link) is based in Switzerland. It’s one of about 100 Swiss companies employing 2,500 people to produce high-end products and critical technologies for space missions. The business generates CHF370 million ($366 million) per year.

Spaced out students

Space science, education and technology are closely linked in the Alpine country. One notable success story is the SwissCubeexternal link, a picosatellite developed at the Space Center of the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFLexternal link). Students from a number of universities jointly developed the electronics, structure, payload and communication system and prepared for its launch. Since its commissioning in 2009, the picosatellite has been in continuous use.

Swiss Public Television, SRF, visited two companies in Lausanne that offer niche products for outer space. Astrocastexternal link makes mini-satellites that connect the remotest places in the world with the Internet. Viasat external linkproduces antennas that receive signals from space satellites. They are installed in planes so passengers can access the Internet. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)

Swiss space history
Switzerland has a long history of space research. On Apollo 11, the first manned flight to the moon, solar sails were used to analyse the “solar wind”. This experiment, which was primarily developed at the Physics Institute of the University of Bern, was the first experiment conducted by humans on the moon.

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