As the International Space Station (ISS) nears its end in 2030, the privatization of lower Earth orbit is set to transform research and manufacturing in space. Experts, including Oliver Ullrich of the University of Zurich's Space Hub, foresee a new industrial revolution. The Greater Zurich Area is poised to become a central hub in this burgeoning space economy, driving innovation and strengthening the region's competitive edge.

The space economy takes off: Impulses for the Greater Zurich Area
Oliver Ullrich, aerospace physician and Director of the UZH Space Hub, explains the opportunities of the space economy for the Greater Zurich Area. (Image: Regina Sablotny, UZH)


A new revolution

With the end of the International Space Station (ISS) in 2030, the lower Earth orbit will be privatized. Private space stations will open up near-Earth orbit at a fraction of the transport and operating costs of state-run space missions. This shift will not only enable research but also facilitate manufacturing in lower Earth orbit.

This benefits industries such as advanced manufacturing and biotech, where zero gravity allows for easier production of items like semiconductors, glass fibers, medicines, human tissue from stem cells for transplants, and tumor organoids for precision medicine.


Space as a cantonal project

Leading economists believe that a new industrial revolution will be triggered in low-Earth orbit by the end of this decade. This was explained by Oliver Ullrich, aerospace physician and Director of the Space Hub at the University of Zurich, in his keynote speech at the General Assembly of the FRZ Flughafenregion Zürich, Business & Location Development Network.

The Canton of Zurich has already reacted to this development: In the Government Council resolution of 10 April 2024, it declared the use of space to be one of the canton's three innovation lighthouse projects.

Greater Zurich: A hub for innovation

Greater Zurich: A hub for innovation

Is innovation an important factor of success for your company? Switzerland and the Greater Zurich Area in particular are world leaders in research, knowledge, and innovation. The established exchange between academic institutions and the private sector as well as access to highly qualified talent make the Greater Zurich Area a leading innovation hub.

Innovation Park Teaser

Expertise in Hall 4

 According to Ullrich, the space economy is becoming increasingly important in the Greater Zurich Area - the Swiss hotspot for innovation and technology - as a result of the government's decision. Thanks to its proximity to the international airport in Kloten, a strong economic environment, and world-class research and educational institutions, the region offers ideal conditions for the new near-earth space economy.

The Space Hub, which recently began operating Hall 4 at the Innovation Park in Dübendorf, is one of the key factors behind this: With its expertise, the Space Hub forms the link between research, development, business, and industry. With the Dübendorf airfield and its location at the Kennedy Space Centre, it is directly linked to transport to the new space stations.


Establishing a hub

 The Greater Zurich Area is perfectly equipped to position itself as a hub for the space economy in Europe. The collaboration between companies and research institutions is now creating a dynamic ecosystem that is driving innovation and strengthening the region's competitiveness: the space economy is not only literally taking off, but is also giving the region new momentum for a promising future in the space age.


This article was first published as a space blog in the Zürcher Oberländer.

How Starship boosts the space economy

How Starship boosts the space economy

Want to dive deeper into the future of the space economy? Discover how SpaceX’s Starship is set to transform the space economy in our exclusive interview with Professor Oliver Ullrich,  Director of the UZH Space Hub. He discusses the innovative development approach of SpaceX, the economic benefits of reduced space access costs, and the potential for the Greater Zurich Area to become a pivotal hub in this new industrial revolution.

Starship Teaser

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