Luxembourg will make an initial investment of 200 million euros ($227 million) to become the “Silicon Valley of space resources” under an initiative that will primarily benefit two American asteroid mining companies.
The investment will fund asteroid survey missions by Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources that will be launched within three years, government officials said at a press conference on Friday. Luxembourg will also fund research and development into technologies needed to identify, extract and process minerals, water and other materials.
The two companies have agreed to set up operations in the European tax haven. Deep Space Industries has signed an agreement with the Luxembourg government to work together, officials said. A similar agreement with Planetary Resources is in the works.
In addition to funding space missions and R&D, Luxembourg is considering making direct capital investments to become shareholders in the two companies, Vice Prime Minister Étienne Schneider told journalists.
Luxembourg is also drafting legislation that will legalize the right of companies to extract and own materials on asteroids, the moon and other celestial bodies. The legislation will be similar to a law passed in the United States last year.
Schneider and Prime Minister Xavier Bettel announced the measures during a press conference in Luxembourg last week. They were joined by two members of the spaceresources.lu Initiative Advisory Board — former ESA director general Jean-Jacques Dordain and former NASA Ames Research Center director Pete Worden.
Schneider said the government’s goal is to attract other space resources companies to Luxembourg so the tiny nation can become one of the world’s top 10 space nations. He believes there synergies in related areas such as robotics, artificial intelligence and additive manufacturing.
Since Luxembourg announced its initiative in February, officials have been contacted by other countries who want to become partners, Schneider said. Some bi-lateral meetings have been held.
Worden said the plan is to have a large number of companies located in Luxembourg within a year. He expected more traditional companies that are not in the space business to become involved.
Schneider said Luxembourg will lead an international effort to develop a clear international legal framework that protects the rights of companies to extract and profit from extraterrestrial resources.