The European Space Agency (ESA) Council at Ministerial level took place this week - a key decision-making event where the budget for the next 3 years has been adopted by all ESA’s member states.
eSpace - EPFL Space Center has carefully followed the discussions and compiled a brief review and opinion piece to come back more into details on the key decisions taken this week and on the opportunities lying ahead for Switzerland and EPFL.
The CM22 comes at a critical time for the space ecosystem in Switzerland and Europe, Since Switzerland does not have a space agency, ESA is the agency supporting most the Swiss Space Ecosystem. eSpace's Academic director Prof. Jean-Paul Kneib, alongside Renato Kproun, director of the Swiss Space Office, briefly summarised these challenges in a short radio interview on RTS.
Ms. Hirayama of the Swiss State Secretariat, mentioned in her statement on the first day that Switzerland was committed to foster innovation in different fields such as autonomous access to space, space debris removal, secure communication platforms, satellite navigation as well as EO. Switzerland also made clear its commitment to strengthen ESA leadership roles in science and technology and in contributing to solving major challenges related to climate change. You can read more on the following statement.
As an outcome, Switzerland contributed to a total of 634 millions euros, keeping a share of 3.7% of the total ESA budget, increasing the Swiss contribution by almost 17% from the CM19. You can find more information on the official press release.
On the sidelines of the CM22, ESA and 22 other European space actors have released a “Statement for a Responsible Space Sector” demonstrating Europe’s leadership in space sustainability.
What does it mean for EPFL?
EPFL is honoured to have Prof. Claude Nicollier, the so far only Swiss Astronaut selected in 1978 to teach our students the class on Space Mission Design & Operation. The new class of astronaut 2022 was announced during the CM22. We are proud to have a Swiss national, Marco Sieber, taking part in the next cohort of European astronauts , and also one scientific collaborator from EPFL, Raphael Liegois, from Belgium.
We are confident that the budget to be allocated to the European Space Deep Tech Innovation Center, hosted at Paul Scherrer Institute, will provide the necessary boost to help ramp up the activities and achieve its objectives.
ESA CM22 also provided confirmation that our research and education priorities at EPFL in the domain of space sustainability, lunar activities, space science and deep tech technologies are acknowledged and relevant to the space sector.