Luxembourg back space mining ambitions

Luxembourg’s Government has put 200 million Euros into its plans to become a global space mining hub.

On Friday the government announced the funding, as well as new laws, which will make it the first country in Europe to set out legal guidelines for asteroid mining, according to Reuters.

“Luxembourg will strive to promote a legal regulatory framework on the international level supporting investments and growth opportunities for private ventures targeting the utilisation of space resources,” Luxembourger prime minister Xavier Bettel said.

“The Grand-Duchy aims to participate with other nations in all relevant forums in order to agree on a mutually beneficial international framework.”

The new law will be similar to that passed in the US late last year, which clarified mineral rights, however it is not known whether companies will be given as much uncontrolled regulatory freedom as in the US.

The US Space Act of 2015 delineates the process for obtaining rights to extract resources from asteroids and ownership of those resources, and also gives the fledging space mining industry close to a decade without regulatory oversights.

Importantly, the bill reinforces that only companies or individuals, and not nation states, have rights to the materials obtained in outer space.

Luxembourg’s new law is based on research carried out at the University of Luxembourg.

“The comprehensive legislation is expected to be effective 2017 and will guarantee operators the right to resources harvested in outer space in accordance with international law,” an official statement by Luxembourg’s Government explained.

“Space resource-dedicated licenses will be issued under the new law, and government supervision of the activities of operators and regulating their rights and obligations will be ensured by Luxembourg in accordance with the Outer Space Treaty.”

These new laws come on the back of a significant partnership with hopeful asteroid miner Deep Space Industries, which aims to develop space mining technology.

The international mission, known as Prospect-X, is an agreement to explore, use, and commercialise space resources and builds upon Luxembourg’s earlier space mining initiative to become a technology hub for the industry.

Luxembourg is also working on a similar MoU with the Google-backed Planetary Resources.

Commenting on this latest development, Luxembourg’s deputy prime minister Etienne Schneider, commented: “Luxembourg will offer an attractive overall framework for space resource utilisation related activities, including but not limited to the legal regime.”

“The government will dedicate funding to R&D in technologies related to space resource utilisation, in line with our ambition to become a European hub for the exploration and use of space resources.”

 

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