Thirty years after the foundation in 1985 of the European satellite company (Société Européenne des Satellites - SES) – which has since become the global leader among satellite operators -, the Grand Duchy is again looking to the stars, or rather to the asteroids and the resources they contain. Since the announcement of the creation of a legal framework for the exploitation of resources in space, the number of companies and stakeholders in the sector that have begun activities in the Grand Duchy has been growing constantly, to such an extent that it is possible to refer to a real ecosystem for space technologies in the Grand Duchy.
Why space resources?
Recent developments in space technologies point to a substantial reduction in the cost of space missions, and hence to an increase in the number of those missions. Yet, each launch takes up precious planetary resources to launch a limited of cargo - an enormous waste.
So imagine that future missions could stock up on the fuel, water, materials and resources they need in space, from resources mined on asteroids. And imagine that other resources which are rare on Earth could be brought back from space.
This is the vision behind the SpaceResources.lu initiative.
A launch pad for exploring asteroids
In 2017, the Grand Duchy adopted a legal framework for exploiting the resources on Near Earth Objects (NEO), mainly asteroids.
The Law on the exploration and use of space resources came into force on 24 July 2017; it is the second legal framework of this kind in the world, and the first in Europe.
Luxembourg's new Space Law ensures legal security for private companies regarding entitlement to mineral resources gathered in space, all in compliance with international law. The law has been formulated in a way as to specifically grant companies the right to extract resources, such as minerals, water and other resources, in particular on asteroids. However, the law does not suggest to either establish or imply in any way sovereignty over a territory or over a celestial body. Only the appropriation of space resources is addressed in the legal framework.
Partners in the conquest of space
There is already an ecosystem of stakeholders and networks ready to welcome you and finance your R&D projects involving space technologies:
- The Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) is expert in research and development in the field of nanomaterials, nanotechnologies and services based on satellite data;
- The University of Luxembourg and its Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT);
- Luxinnovation, the Grand Duchy's agency for the promotion of innovation and research, which offers companies of all sizes a wide range of services free of charge;
- The European Space Agency (ESA), the established European authority on space matters.
There are also two sectorial groupings for advising companies, defending their interests, and promoting synergy and cooperation:
- The Luxembourg Space Cluster, which brings together public and private organisations in the space sector in the Grand Duchy;
- The Luxembourg Group of Aeronautics and Space (GLAE), a grouping in the aeronautical and space sector in the Grand Duchy.