24 June 2022

The ATV takes up its final resting place

At 2.00 pm on 24 June 2022, the ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle) was lowered into its new home on the Uecht, where it will be walled in and then displayed to the public in 2023. But the space shuttle’s journey began much earlier than this.

The seven-metre-long ATV was originally built by Swiss aerospace company RUAG Space. It was the prototype for a series of space shuttles designed to supply astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) with food, energy, oxygen and equipment. The spacecraft was also used for test purposes. Five space shuttles in use between 2008 and 2014 were constructed on the basis of this model. Once they had served their purpose, they were filled with refuse and left to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. The prototype remained on Earth. As RUAG no longer had any need for it, and putting it on display was out of the question, the ATV was destined to be scrapped. This was ultimately prevented, thanks to a concerted effort by the Swiss Space Museum and Stiftung Sternwarte Uecht (Uecht Observatory Foundation). In a cloak-and-dagger operation in 2019, the prototype was successfully moved to a barn on the Uecht in Niedermuhlern (as reported by the Berner Zeitung newspaper), where it was put into storage. The giant structure spent three years in this temporary home, until being brought out into the light again in May of this year, so that it could be admired at the building site during a foundation sponsorship event.

The ATV then commenced its final journey. With the strong support of numerous helpers, it was lifted by a building crane and positioned over the construction pit in an elaborate procedure. In a tricky manoeuvre, it was then turned through 90° and lowered on its side onto a mount at its final resting place. It will now be walled in and put on display to the general public when Space Eye opens in mid-2023.

11 May 2022

It was a beautiful day at Bütschelegg Restaurant and the Uecht construction site for the information event to which partners with bronze status or higher and representatives of the media were invited.

Foundation President Andreas Blaser spoke to over 100 people about the exciting development of the project since the ground-breaking ceremony. The observatory for astronomy, space science and sustainability designed by Mario Botta on the Uecht in Niedermuhlern near Bern (formerly the Swiss Space and Sustainability Observatory) has raised its profile and is now to become the Space Eye Space and Environment Observatory. Besides the Foundation President, a number of other top guests spoke to the audience in person or via a video link: Professor Thomas Schildknecht (Foundation Vice-President), Michael Kropf (Foundation Managing Director), Scott Kelly (US NASA astronaut and Foundation Advisory Board member), Professor Thomas Zurbuchen (Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA and Advisory Board member), Professor Kathrin Altwegg (astrophysicist and member of the Board of Trustees), Professor Christian Leumann (Rector of the University of Bern and Advisory Board member), Christoph Neuhaus (government councillor for the canton of Bern) and Mario Botta (architect of the observatory).

The video of the event can be viewed here.

The participants also admired the Space Eye construction site. Building on the Uecht started in September 2021. One central element of the future exhibition, the Automated Transfer Vehicle (an automated space freighter for the ISS built by RUAG Space), could be observed at the construction site. Guido Schwarz, founder of the Swiss Space Museum, explained this historical piece of space equipment to the guests. The ATV is waiting at the construction site for its ultimate transfer to the exhibition area and can be viewed from the road here for the next four weeks.