Galileo satellite
Galileo satellite © ESA-P. Carril

Switzerland works closely with the EU and its member states on space policy. Switzerland was a founding member of the Paris-based European Space Agency (ESA) in 1975, which is now heavily involved in the implementation of the EU space programme. While 19 EU member states are direct members of ESA, the EU as a whole has regulated its cooperation with ESA since 2004 in a framework agreement, which was supplemented by a financial partnership framework agreement in 2021. End of 2013, Switzerland signed a cooperation agreement with the EU and its member states on cooperation in the EU's Galileo and EGNOS satellite navigation programmes. There are currently 28 Galileo navigation satellites in space; to complete the constellation, two more satellites are to be sent into space by 2024. The satellites already provide highly precise navigation data and Galileo is considered the world's most modern and precise navigation system. This is due to high-precision atomic clocks, some of which are produced by Swiss companies. The navigation data are currently used by more than 3 billion terminals worldwide - mobile phones, vehicle navigation systems, etc. EGNOS, the abbreviation for European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service, is Europe's regional satellite-based augmentation system and is used to improve the signals of global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) through increased accuracy, availability, integrity and reliability. In the spring of 2022, the Federal Council also decided to seek participation in the EU's Copernicus environmental observation programme, which provides satellite data for Earth observation, e.g. regarding land use, land use changes, forestation, glacier spread or greenhouse gas emissions. Due to the Confederation's strained financial situation, the Federal Council decided in May 2024 that Switzerland should not participate in the current period of the programme, which runs until the end of 2027. Joining the next generation of the programme from 2028 is being examined during the current period. The EU is currently setting up another space programme for a secure internet connection from space called IRIS2, which is also being partially implemented by ESA. Switzerland is closely following the developments in this programme, is participating in its development through the corresponding ESA projects and will consider joining this programme in the future.

Further information on Switzerland's activities in the area of space can be found on the website of the Swiss Space Office, which is located at the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation.