Luxembourg Invests €25 million in Asteroid Mining

Planetary Resources receives government funding for its asteroid mining business

2 min read
Planetary Resources’ President & CEO Chris Lewicki and Luxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider celebrate the partnership.
Planetary Resources’ President & CEO Chris Lewicki and Luxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider celebrate the public-private asteroid mining partnership.
Photo: Planetary Resources

Luxembourg has agreed to invest €25 million in asteroid mining company Planetary Resources.

“It’s really big news,” says angel investor Chad Anderson, the managing director of Space Angels Network—one of Planetary Resource’s early investors.

Several companies, among them Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries, plan on mining space for its riches. Planetary Resources aims to launch the first commercial asteroid prospecting mission by 2020. Near-Earth Asteroids are an untapped reserve of rocket fuel, materials, and minerals, the company explains on its website—although there is some disagreement over whether suitable asteroids are actually available.

Luxembourg was the first European Union country to set up a legal framework for space mining, following the United States Commercial Space Launch Competiveness Act in 2015. In June, the Luxembourg government announced a €200 million fund for enticing asteroid mining companies, as Fortune reports.

In a press release yesterday, Planetary Resources announced that a deal with the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Société Nationale de Crédit et d’Investissement--a banking institution--had been finalized.

€12 million will be a direct capital investment and €13 million will come in the form of grants. Planetary Resources will set up a Luxembourg office, SNCI will take a public equity position in Planetary Resources, and an advisory board member of the SpaceResources.lu initiative will join the company’s Board of Directors, according to the release.

“Asteroid mining is an expensive endeavor,” Anderson says. “Getting this funding is a real benefit to their efforts.”

Planetary Resources and Paul Zenners, Luxembourg’s Ministère de l'Économie, did not respond to requests for further comment.

Amara Graps, a planetary scientist, asteroid mining advocate, and independent consultant for the Luxembourg Ministry of Economy who lives in Riga, Latvia, says “They can put more attention into the asteroid mining business” instead of getting “detoured” by monetary constraints.

Graps says the money is a runway for Planetary Resources to focus on characterizing and identifying proper asteroids as well as refining sensor and propulsion technologies, for example.

She did wonder if this announcement could potentially influence the decision of venture capitalists to invest because of a perceived risk of government involvement.

“Quite the opposite,” says Anderson.

He says the government is only an equity holder with the same stakes as other investors and it would not dictate how the business operates. Because the investment increases credibility, “I think this will encourage other investors to come on.”

“Luxembourg has stepped up,” he says.

The Conversation (0)
Two men fix metal rods to a gold-foiled satellite component in a warehouse/clean room environment

Technicians at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif., work on a mockup of the JWST spacecraft bus—home of the observatory’s power, flight, data, and communications systems.

NASA

For a deep dive into the engineering behind the James Webb Space Telescope, see our collection of posts here.

When the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) reveals its first images on 12 July, they will be the by-product of carefully crafted mirrors and scientific instruments. But all of its data-collecting prowess would be moot without the spacecraft’s communications subsystem.

The Webb’s comms aren’t flashy. Rather, the data and communication systems are designed to be incredibly, unquestionably dependable and reliable. And while some aspects of them are relatively new—it’s the first mission to use Ka-band frequencies for such high data rates so far from Earth, for example—above all else, JWST’s comms provide the foundation upon which JWST’s scientific endeavors sit.

Keep Reading ↓Show less
{"imageShortcodeIds":[]}