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Space

The Swiss Armed Forces is dependent on services from space in order to perform its tasks. In order to enable this, the area of Space researches, develops and tests the latest technologies for intelligence collection, command support, precision navigation and synchronisation. We enable the required operational capabilities to be built up in outer space, as well as possible alternatives.

GPS or weather satellite in Earth orbit

Our competences

Icons of the different competences of the space sector

Our projects

Capability-based research

Space Situational Awareness

The GPS satellites revolve around the earth.

Due to the increasing military usage of the space domain, it is also essential for the Swiss Armed Forces to have precise knowledge of the situation and operations in space. For this reason, we examine various technologies and methods for acquisition, processing and fusion as well as visualising information from space.

Tracking and prediction of satellite positions

Luminous orbits of the orbits that circle the Earth

To plan military operations and manoeuvres, the troops need a reliable prediction of satellite positions in the future. They need to know when which satellite is located where, and which capabilities this satellite has (in other words, which objects can be  recognized). In order to provide the Armed Forces with this basis for planning, we are researching various technologies for active and passive tracking as well as reliable prediction of satellite positions in the future. On the one hand, this is performed by active measuring using optical or electromagnetic methods but also by using open source data or data from partnerships with foreign armed forces. The data obtained will be analysed using, amongst other methods, machine learning algorithms, in order to be able to assess the status, intentions or manoeuvres of satellites.

Satellite communication

Three communication satellite dishes during thunderstorms.

The troops need the ability to network their own forces in all situations with redundant communication resources. In these cases, satellite-based communication creates a possible redundancy. For this reason, we research satellite communication with all its applications and assess the performance capacity but also the limits of modern commercial satellites and satellite constellations. In addition, we analyse and assess the availability, reliability and security of satellite-based connections in various forms (such as geostationary versus low earth orbit). 

Imagery and signals intelligence

GPS or weather satellite in Earth orbit

In order to fulfil its mission and to cover its own areas of interest, the Armed Forces require information and data from outer space. Here, the focus is on capabilities in the area of imagery intelligence (IMINT) and signals intelligence (SIGINT). Our research in the area of image and signal reconnaissance is focused on the assessment of the performance capacity and the limits of existing modern reconnaissance satellites as well as the performance appraisal of new (commercial) satellites and satellite constellations. With the technological developments in the area of artificial intelligence and machine learning, a further focus is on the assessment of the possibilities and limits in the automation of satellite image evaluation, in particular in signature detection in the EO, IR and SAR areas. 

Satellite navigation

A satellite is examined in the laboratory

Almost all military systems today are dependent on permanent and precise signals for positioning, navigation and timing  provided by the various Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). Due to this high level of dependence, we deal intensively with detecting and securing targeted disruptions of GNSS signals (jamming and spoofing) checking the quality and integrity of signals, handling weak and falsified signals and the use of signals similar to GNSS from different earth- or air-based sources. We also research alternatives to GNSS, such as navigation by radio signals, image-based information or other sensor data.

Decision support

Monitoring technology and market development

Rocket flying through the clouds on moonlight 3d illustration

As in many other technical areas, technological progress in space is also advancing at an increasingly rapid pace. In addition, it is not only large countries and governments who are using outer space, but in particular visionary entrepreneurs who are massively driving forward developments in what is known as «New Space». On behalf of the Armed Forces, we therefore monitor the national and international developments and demonstrate the possible impact on the fulfilment of tasks as well as Armed Forces projects in the domain of operations of outer space. Our focus is on technical feasibility, availability, usability, costs and dependence.

Swiss Space Capabilities

A team of engineers works on building a satellite. International space mission of the Aerospace Agency: Various groups of scientists develop spacecraft and calculate the orbital trajectory on the computer

As a founding member of the European Space Agency ESA, Switzerland has been actively pursuing efforts in outer space since the 1970s. As a result, a wide range of organisations and companies have established themselves in various application areas in Switzerland. As part of the development of capabilities in the area of outer space, on behalf of the Armed Forces we create and maintain an overview of the institutions and their capabilities in order to identify and assess their potential.

Innovation

SitSat: Space Situational Awareness for the Swiss Armed Forces

Screenshot of the demonstrator SitSat

Situational Awareness of outer space is only significant if it can be made available to various units of the Armed Forces and other relevant authorities. In order to achieve this purpose, we have developed the application SitSat («situation of the satellite») in cooperation with an external partner. SitSat enables the situation of all known satellites to be displayed and precisely analysed at any reference location worldwide and in any time frame. It can also be determined whether and in what time frame the selected reference location is visible for a reconnaissance satellite and whether a connection to a communication or navigation satellite is possible. At the same time, the application takes into account both the prevailing weather conditions and the topographical circumstances. On the one hand, SitSat exists as a web application, to obtain a comprehensive picture of the situation at operational level and to provide targeted support for operative planning. On the other hand, SitSat is also available as an application for tablets and smartphones, in order to gain rapid situational awareness at a tactical level and to speed up tactical decisions. 


armasuisse Science and Technology Research Management
and Operations Research
Dr. Ulrich Langer
Scientific project manager
Feuerwerkerstrasse 39
CH-3602 Thun
Tel.
+41 58 484 64 68

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