On 16 June 2022, the Military Transformations Programme of the RSIS Institute for Defence and Strategic Studies hosted a webinar on “Small States, Emerging Technologies, and Space Innovation: Creating Space Resiliency”. Presented by Mr Gaetan Petit, Co-Founder of Space4Impact, a company that promotes the adoption of space technologies into new markets, and Mr Grégoire Bourban, Head of Space Exchange Switzerland, a national platform funded by the Swiss Space Office of the State Secretariat for Education, Research, and Innovation, the webinar was based on the research on small space nations in Europe such as Scotland and Luxemburg, with a specific focus on Switzerland.
Satellites and their derived applications are increasingly becoming part of critical infrastructure, including systems and technology necessary for navigation, telecommunication, and national security. The space domain has therefore caught the attention of small nations as the increasing amount of data available allows the developing of their own situational awareness tools and competency, which would help decrease dependency on other nations. The transition of the space market from traditional institution-based to commercial-based has allowed small nations, including Switzerland, to pursue space activities with lower costs.
Switzerland can be considered an emerging leader in the space domain, with the backbone of its space ecosystem being the academic field and the area of start-ups. Switzerland does not have its own space agency but is part of many international networks, notably the European Space Agency (ESA). Through ESA, Switzerland has access to systems and data that help develop niche products, including atomic clocks and payload fairings, which could, in turn, be sold to the commercial market. In the coming years, Switzerland is to adopt a new space policy and legal framework, which will reflect the importance of the space domain to the economy, society, and national security and address pressing issues of environment and sustainability.