Swiss Space Systems' Project SOAR Aims To Develop Switzerland's First Suborbital Spacecraft

It seems everyone is trying to grab a piece of the privatespace game these days - now it's the Swiss making a bid.

Swiss Space Systems (S3) are developing their own spacecraft with the aim of operating suborbital shuttles to deploy small satellites.

If successful S3 claim their craft will be the most economic and ecological available - partly as all the main components are re-usable.

The space plane will launch from an Airbus A300

This also means the cost is kept down to a minimum. Project SOAR, as it has been dubbed, aims to be flying its first test flights in 2017.

S3's chairman is Claude Nicollier, Switzerland's first ever astronaut and the rest of its 40 employees all have extensive experience, some with Nasa and the European Space Agency who helped develop the craft.

S3's mission statement says:

Our mission is to give access to space. We want to make space accessible through fast and recurrent access opportunities facilitating particularly science and in-orbit delivery. Thanks to our innovative launching system based on assembling the best of proven technologies, we will be able to serve our clients with excellence at highly competitive costs. Our aim is to democratize access to space by enabling emerging markets, countries, universities and research institutes to do what has not been possible for them up to now: deploy their own satellites.