The launch of the Space Resources initiative in 2016 and the creation of the Luxembourg Space Agency in 2018 demonstrate the Grand Duchy's determination to create a solid, dynamic, innovative space sector and become a leading international player in the field.
The aim of SpaceResources.lu is to ensure that the space resources explored under its jurisdiction are used for peaceful purposes, are gathered and used sustainably, in compliance with international law, and in the interests of humanity.
In this context, a number of companies and start-ups have sprung up in the Grand Duchy in recent years; they now form part of the national action plan for 2020-2024 covering space science and technology.
Maana Electric - aiming for green space technology
Among these start-ups, Maana Electric proposes developing an autonomous system for producing solar panels using resources available in situ, i.e. regolith on the Moon and sand on Earth.
Joost van Oorschot, CEO de Maana Electric: une introduction au projet
Maana Electric is proposing TerraBox, a totally automated factory capable of producing solar panels using nothing more than sand and electricity.
What are the main assets of Maana Electric's project?
Firstly, it involves the production of cheap solar panels. Using cheap raw materials and their own electricity reduces the cost of producing the panels considerably. This makes any projects associated with photo-voltaic technology economically viable.
Secondly, the fact that production is essentially local: their technology makes it possible to use any kind of sand (one third of planet Earth is covered with sand!) and their factories are portable, which impacts the reduction of emissions caused by transport.
That means the start-up is capable of producing solar panels with no emission of greenhouses gases. So the project would make it possible not only to develop space technologies but also provide a speedy transition to renewable energy, thereby helping to curb global warming.
A dynamic space eco-system is taking shape
The 2019 Space Directory provides an updated and thorough image of the space industry in the Grand Duchy, with around 50 research companies and bodies present in the Grand Duchy employing more than 800 people.
The future of the sector looks bright. In fact the Fit 4 Start acceleration programme has opened a vertical dedicated to the sector: the autumn 2019 edition included the first five start-ups in the space field: 3Dfarms (USA), GlobeEye (France), Ilumbra (Luxembourg), RespectUs (Luxembourg) and WEO (Germany). In addition, the 10th edition of Fit 4 Start will again be selecting five start-ups connected with the space field, but this time broadening the range to include other sub-sectors: SatCom (telecommunications satellite), Earth Observation, Navigation, Space Resources, Space Security, Space Cyber-security and Science.
There is also the University of Luxembourg's launch of an Interdisciplinary Space Master, demonstrating the Grand Duchy's commitment to the development of expertise in key areas. This Master, unique in Europe, has been in place since the autumn of 2019; it aims to provide students with the necessary engineering skills for the space industry, and the knowledge needed for managing space-related activities.