On most launches, the small secondary satellites that ride along with the primary payloads garner little attention.
That has begun to change in recent years as CubeSats have become increasingly capable. The importance of these small satellites could be seen in the recent launch of an Indian PSLV rocket, which carried a CartoSat Earth observation satellite and 30 secondary spacecraft from India, Canada, Finland, France, Republic of Korea, UK and the United States.
Chinese Academy of Sciences to establish a Research Laboratory in Luxembourg
LUXEMBOURG, January 16, 2018 (Luxembourg Government PR) – The Ministry of the Economy and the China National Space Administration (CNSA) signed today a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that provides a framework for the development and implementation of scientific, technical, economic and political cooperation between Luxembourg and China in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. The areas of potential cooperation include, but are not limited to economic, legal, regulatory and technological aspects of the utilization of space resources.
Furthermore, the Ministry of the Economy, represented by Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Economy, Étienne Schneider and the National Space Science Center (NSSC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) signed a cooperation agreement to establish a Research Laboratory of Deep Space Exploration in Luxembourg. The National Space Science Center is China’s gateway to space science. It is the key institute responsible for planning, developing, launching and operating China’s space science satellite missions.
The Research Laboratory of Deep Space Exploration will be established as an independent legal entity in Luxembourg where it will carry out scientific research and technology development and thus contribute to achieving the objectives set forth within the SpaceResources.lu initiative. Other main research fields of the Research Laboratory include universal interplanetary communications network related technology or advanced deep space communications technology. In a first stage, the Research Laboratory will employ at least 5 employees in Luxembourg.
REDMOND, Wash., January 12, 2018 (Planetary Resources) – Planetary Resources today announced the successful launch of the Arkyd-6, a 6U CubeSat, containing a demonstration of technology designed to detect water resources in space. The team has already begun to receive telemetry from the spacecraft. The data obtained from the Arkyd-6 will be valuable in the development of the Arkyd-301, Planetary Resources’ next spacecraft platform and the beginning of the company’s space resource exploration program.
Video Caption: You care about the future of our planet. You traded in your gas-guzzling SUV for a Prius and your Keurig for a Coffee Maker — and if enough of us do that, we’ll save the Earth, right? Well, we are dangerously close to collapsing our own ecosystem and we are running out of time.
In this persuasive talk, James Orsulak argues that the only way to really make a difference is to look up. James Orsulak serves as the Director of Business Development at Planetary Resources, an asteroid mining company that has embarked on the world’s first commercial deep space exploration. The company focuses on technologies such as rocket propellant, water for life support functions, and construction materials sourced from asteroids.
Previously, James spent a decade developing industrial-scale fueling stations on Earth. He is an avid gardener who lives in Denver with his amazing wife, 2-year-old twins and a rambunctious Goldendoodle named Waffles. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.
Editor’s Note: Found out about this video from a Tweet by Peter Diamandis, who founded Planetary Resources. He praised the talk by one of his employees.
But, the whole thing is confusing. Peter’s been running around promoting his book Abundance, which posits that things are getting better all the time and that the exponential technologies that lie at the heart of the Singularity University he co-founded are making life better for all. His whole position is one of techno-optimism bordering on techno-euphoria.
Yet, this talk posits that Earth and humanity itself is doomed without asteroid mining. What if it doesn’t turn out to be the panacea that they claim it to be? What if it’s not profitable enough to ensure the investment required? Are we all still doomed?
Video Caption: Asteroid mining is the key to our future expansion into space. See the vision of Planetary Resources in our latest video short featuring Dante Lauretta, Ph.D. and also Tory Bruno of United Launch Alliance.
Video Caption: We’d like to introduce the Arkyd-6 spacecraft! This 6U cubesat is packed with power including 17 computing elements. The Arkyd-6 is part of our R&D program assisting us in the design of the Arkyd-301 spacecraft that will detect water on near-Earth asteroids.
LUXEMBOURG, October 10, 2017 (Luxembourg PR) — Considering their common interest in the exploration, use and application of space for peaceful purposes, Luxembourg and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) jointly agreed on the opportunity to cooperate on space activities. The Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, represented by the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Economy, Étienne Schneider, and the UAE, represented by the Minister of State for Higher Education and Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, signed today in Abu Dhabi a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to start bilateral cooperation on space activities with particular focus on the exploration and utilization of space resources.
Video Caption: Planetary Resources is embarking on the world’s first commercial deep space exploration mission. The purpose is to identify and unlock the critical water resources necessary for human expansion in space. Sourcing water is the first step to creating a civilization in space. Water is used for life support functions and can also be refined into rocket propellant. The initial mission will identify the asteroids that contain the best source of water, and will simultaneously provide the vital information needed to build a commercial mine which will harvest water for use in space.
Editor’s Note: This is very cool. But, when? I understand the need for promotional videos, but they often serve as placeholders. In lieu of an actual mission/demonstrable progress, here’s a video of what we’re going to do eventually. Here’s a profile of our ground crew.
I’m a little puzzled by Planetary Resources. It was formed on Jan. 1, 2009, and emerged from stealth mode in April 2012. They launched one CubeSat from the space station but said virtually nothing about it after launch (not a good sign). A follow-on Earth orbit tech demo sat was scheduled for 2015, but it still hasn’t launched. They announced a Kickstarter to display selfies in orbit but later canceled that mission and refunded the money. They announced an Earth orbiting constellation that would monitor crops from orbit. Then they canceled that program after raising $21.1 million in Series A investment to fund it.
They had this big press conference back in 2012 to announce it, and there was all this hype from Peter Diamandis and all these billionaires with more money than God involved. I would have expected more progress by now, and that the company backed by so many immensely wealthy people wouldn’t be so dependent on government funding from Luxembourg.
The company has been advertising on social media that they’re hiring, so that seems to be a good sign.
WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA has selected five new research proposals to understand the effective drivers of investments in the global space economy, encouraging non-traditional companies, as well as traditional aerospace companies, to look beyond satellites for new opportunities in commercial space development.
“Our space technology work is focused on providing new capabilities for robotic and human exploration of the solar system, but we are also here to help enable new commercial markets or enterprises,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA. “The results of these studies provide insights into the potential economic impacts of new space-based capabilities and applications which in turn helps guide our investments in technology development.”
GOLDEN, Colo. (Colorado School of Mines PR) — Colorado School of Mines could soon be preparing the next generation of scientists and engineers to responsibly explore, extract and use resources not only on Earth but also on the Moon, Mars, asteroids and beyond.
LUXEMBOURG, July 13, 2017 (Luxembourg Government PR) – The Luxembourg Parliament adopted the draft law on the exploration and use of space resources. The Grand Duchy is thus the first European country to offer a legal framework ensuring that private operators can be confident about their rights on resources they extract in space. The law will come into force on August 1, 2017. Its first article provides that space resources are capable of being owned. The country’s law also establishes the procedures for authorizing and supervising space exploration missions.
PARIS (Luxembourg Government PR) — At the occasion of the 2017 Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, Luxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy Etienne Schneider visited the ESA pavilion and, together with ESA Director General, Jan Wörner, signed a joint statement on future activities concerning missions to the asteroids, related technologies and space resources exploration and utilisation.
You might recall that last June the company announced it had raised a Series A round of funding totaling $21.1 million for an Earth-observation project called Ceres. The constellation of satellites would monitor natural uses using the infrared and hyperspectral sensors.
In the five years since the company came out of stealth mode, it has pivoted from focusing on asteroid missions to remote sensing and now back to asteroid missions.
Foust didn’t report on the reason for the latest pivot. However, Planetary Resources main financial backer and partner is the government of Luxembourg, a postage-size country (as these things go) that doesn’t have a lot of use for natural resource monitoring, but is very interested in asteroid mining.
In November 2016, Luxembourg announced it was investing $28 million in Planetary Resources. The company also has set up an office in the European nation.
Foust did report that Lewicki, who is the company’s CEO, said two Arkyd-6 satellites are being readied for delivery in the next month for launch. The spacecraft will search for promising asteroids.
Lewicki also said the company plans to launch its first asteroid prospecting mission in the second half of 2020.
Tiny Luxembourg is aiming to be the BMOA (big man on asteroids) when it comes to extraterrestrial mining.
The government of Luxembourg expects to soon have in place both a new national space law and a national space agency, two key steps in the small European country’s outsized contribution to the development of a space resources industry.
“We found out that, in order to be successful, and in order to help businesses to develop in this sector, it needs several commitments,” said Etienne Schneider, deputy prime minister of Luxembourg and minister of finance, in remarks at the meeting.
Those commitments, he said, include a “fully committed” government, a legal framework, research and development funding and access to venture capital. “I think that Luxembourg can offer all this,” he said.
The next major milestone for the country’s space resources initiative is passage of a new national space law. That bill, he said, “will be voted on this month or, at the latest, next month.”