Luxembourg Launches Space Resources Mining Initiative

Schematic view of asteroid (25143) Itokawa. (Credit: ESO)
Schematic view of asteroid (25143) Itokawa. (Credit: ESO)

LUXEMBOURG CITY (Luxembourg Government PR) — The Luxembourg Government announced a series of measures to position Luxembourg as a European hub in the exploration and use of space resources. Amongst the key steps undertaken, as part of the spaceresources.lu initiative, will be the development of a legal and regulatory framework confirming certainty about the future ownership of minerals extracted in space from Near Earth Objects (NEO’s) such as asteroids.

Luxembourg is the first European country to announce its intention to set out a formal legal framework which ensures that private operators working in space can be confident about their rights to the resources they extract, i.e. rare minerals from asteroids. Such a legal framework will be worked out in full consideration of international law. Luxembourg is eager to engage with other countries on this matter within a multilateral framework.

Luxembourg will also invest in relevant R&D projects and consider direct capital investment in companies active in this field.

The SpaceResources.lu initiative will nurture an exciting and entirely new space industry. This industry will offer unprecedented access to mineral resources to be used essentially in Earth-orbit and beyond. The aim is to stimulate economic growth on Earth and offer new horizons in space exploration.

Luxembourg already has a strong track record in related sectors, with satellite operator SES, established in Luxembourg 30 years ago and now a major global player in its field.

The budget allocated to SpaceResources.lu will be part of the national space budget that will be defined in the frame of the preparation of the Luxembourg contribution to the next multiannual budget of the European Space Agency to be decided in December 2016. The government will decide on new means for a wide range of new activities and initiatives, including this one.

Luxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy Étienne Schneider, announced the spaceresources.lu initiative today: “Our aim is to open access to a wealth of previously unexplored mineral resources on lifeless rocks hurling through space, without damaging natural habitats. We will support the long-term economic development of new, innovative activities in the space and satellite industries as a key high-tech sector for Luxembourg. At first, our aim is to carry out research in this area, which at a later stage can lead to more concrete activities in space.”

Jean-Jacques Dordain, the former Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA) and advisor to Luxembourg Government on SpaceResources.lu, said: “This initiative is a clear demonstration that Europeans are innovative and able to take risks when the stakes are high. While futuristic, the project is based on solid grounds, i.e. technical prowess that already exists in Europe and around the world. ”

Simon P. Worden, Chairman of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation said: “Humanity is on the verge of expansion into the solar system – and then beyond. Using the resources we find there is essential – not only for our expansion into space but also to ensure continued prosperity here on Earth.”

Rick Tumlinson, Co-founder and Chair of the Board of Deep Space Industries stated: “By opening up the resources of space, Luxembourg will help take the pressure off the Earth.”

Chris Lewicki, President and CEO of Planetary Resources stated: “We commend the Government of Luxembourg in leading the world by establishing this new resource industry, thereby enabling the economic development of near-Earth asteroid resources. Planetary Resources looks forward to working with Luxembourg.”

Karim Michel Sabbagh, President and CEO of SES stated: “We welcome Luxembourg’s visionary initiative to take, once again, a pioneering step in space technology and further leverage our shared knowledge and experience. We look forward to contributing with our unique capabilities to these future activities.”

Yves Elsen, Chairperson of the Luxembourg Space Cluster stated: “Over the past three decades, Luxembourg has built up extensive know-how in world-class space related activities. Luxembourg can write history once again by further sustaining the attractiveness of the country for a host of next generation space activities.”

  • Andrew_M_Swallow

    When based in Luxenbourg make sure that the French do not try to take over through the European Union government in Brussels.

  • Jacob Samorodin

    Luxembourg? LOL How many people live there? What is its GNP? Has it launched anything into space, even a cubesat? I’m thinking vaporware.

  • ThomasLMatula

    No, I am thinking Moon Treaty Grab as they are very close politically to Belgium which is a Moon Treaty nation.

  • Larry J

    The Moon Treaty is similar to the Law of the Sea Treaty. In both, you’re free to spend vast amounts of money to develop the capability to harvest valuable resources, but if you find anything of value, you have to share it with everyone.

  • Hug Doug

    “Luxembourg has invested heavily in its space industry in the years up to and since it became a European Space Agency member in 2005. Government spending on the sector currently amounts to 0.03% of GDP, ranking the country in the ESA’s top five in per capita terms.”

    Source: http://www.investinluxembourg.lu/sites/default/files/publications/pdfs/lfb_space.pdf

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yep, and it covers the all wealth of the Solar System not just the Moon. Its full name is the Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies.

    As native Americans learned, beware of Europeans bearing gifts…

  • Larry J

    It reminds me of a line from the 7th Lincoln-Douglas debate:

    That is the real issue. That is the issue that will continue in this country when these poor tongues of Judge Douglas and myself shall be silent. It is the eternal struggle between these two principles-right and wrong-throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, “You work and toil and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.” No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.

  • Which means it’s an impotent treaty. It will be ignored, trust me.