news-icon 05/11/2021

It may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Switzerland, but our country has over 50 years of continuous involvement in the space field, including participation to Apollo missions and is a founder member of the European Space Agency (ESA).

Looking back on space week

Switzerland: A Space Nation

For the space thematic week at Expo 2020, Swissnex in collaboration with EPFL showcased Swiss education, research and innovation in the field of space exploration and technologies. There were also several events about all multiple aspects of space exploration, sustainability and research taking place at the Swiss pavilion during this thematic week.

In the exhibition at the Swiss pavilion our visitors learned more about Switzerland’s space panorama and high-added value contribution to space missions, how EPFL became a real space hub of excellence on education, research and innovation, and in which initiatives on Space Sustainability the federal institute of technology is involved, including the ESA ClearSpace-1 mission to capture space debris!

A highlight of the week were the events attended by former Swiss astronaut Prof. Claude Nicollier and former Japanese astronaut Mrs. Naoko Yamazaki. They shared their experiences, motivations and thoughts on their space missions during a presentation at the Swiss pavilion, eventually bringing inspiration to new generations. Find out more about their missions, and the unique experience of floating a little bit closer to the stars here.

Also about inspiring new generations was the workshop for students on how to design an outreach program. It emphasised on space science, outreach and sustainability. During the workshop, the participants learned about space education initiatives at EPFL and at the UAEU. They worked in teams in order to design an outreach program for younger generation around the thematic of exploration, space sustainability and climate change using design thinking tools.

Another focus point of the thematical week was: how do we reach the spatial SDGs? Space activity has never been as intensive in the last 50 years. This has also developed a problem: space debris. During different live events and panels experts discussed possible solutions to counteract this issue and the importance of sustainable space logistics and the space sustainability rating. Finally, at the World Majlis event held at the Indian pavilion about lessons from space, the participants discussed technological innovations developed for space exploration and manned spaceflight. They may offer rich potential here on Earth, at a time when efficient resource management is becoming mission critical for humanity.


The École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is a public research university located in Lausanne, Switzerland. It specializes in natural sciences and engineering.It is one of the two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology, with three main missions: education, research and innovation.

The EPFL Space Center (eSpace) is a cross-disciplinary research facility bringing together students, research institutions, international space agencies and businesses to promote space research and education at EPFL. It offers a range of educational programs, conducts fundamental research and is home to innovative R&D projects. eSpace currently collaborates with EPFL’s spin-off ClearSpace selected by ESA for the first debris removal mission. For the last two years, eSpace has led a research initiative on Sustainable Space Logistics, promoting new ways to develop a sustainable space ecosystem.

The Laboratory of Astrophysics covers a wide range of complementary expertise, with a focus on advanced research and high-quality education of the next generation of astronomers. With a presence at two locations, the EPFL campus in Lausanne and the Astronomical Observatory at Sauverny near Geneva, the research team at LASTRO takes a leading role in various international consortiums and projects focused on extragalactic astrophysics and observational cosmology. LASTRO is currently developing the VIRUP project, aiming to provide the most modern dynamical view of our Universe through one of the most modern communication techniques. VIRUP is a new multi-platform VR environment which allows users to travel through space and time, ranging from the solar system and the outer confines of the Universe, to the nearby stars, the Milky Way disk and the Local Group.

ClearSpace was founded in 2018 in the EPFL out of the realization that On-Orbit Servicing and Space Debris Removal are vital services for the future of Space exploration and operations. In 2019, ClearSpace was selected by the European Space Agency to lead a consortium to develop technologies for capturing and deorbiting space debris.

Space@yourService (S@yS) is an association recognized by EPFL, whose main goal is to popularise and promote space sciences (astronomy, astrophysics, space engineering) among the general public and EPFL students. To do this, S@yS organises various events open to all, such as Astronomy on Tap Lausanne: a conference on space science with professional speakers in various pubs. This event has become very popular in the campus community. What also characterizes the association is the diversity of the amazing projects they are currently running, such as the Asclepios mission, an interdisciplinary project that aims to simulate a short-term space mission to another celestial body. Also they develop new tools to promote space sciences to the general public, like creating an Escape game on the theme of space exploration.