From 9 – 13 April, the FNR’s Secretary General Marc Schiltz is in the US as he joins Etienne Schneider, Minister of the Economy, as well as Prince Guillaume and Princess Stephanie on the Luxembourg economic mission to the US. With visits to Planetary Resources, SSL and the NASA Ames Research Center, the FNR is painting itself a picture of the Space Resources initiative. Which influence does this Government initiative have on public research and on the FNR? Interview with FNR Secretary General Marc Schiltz.
Marc Schiltz, what is your opinion about spaceresources.lu?
“I like this initiative. I think it is good that Luxembourg is tackling such a visionary project – and this endeavour is by no means unrealistic or science fiction! The companies we are visiting here in the US have already mastered much of the needed technology and are well on the way with research and development. The international attention that comes with this initiative is also a good thing for Luxembourg.”
Why are you taking part in this economic mission?
“It’s important to the FNR to truly understand this project, to know where we stand – and what the challenges are. The FNR wants to get an idea of how public research can feed into this initiative. Adding to that, it is a valuable experience to meet all these companies and to find out more about why they want to work with Luxembourg.”
Which influence will this initiative have on public research and the FNR?
“Much research and development is still needed in order for space mining to become feasible on the long-term. Public research will be needed to progress this initiative. It is paramount that the FNR and the research institutions – together with the Government, companies and start-ups – pull together to identify and seize any opportunities to drive this project forward.”
In what respect is Luxembourg an attractive location for space activities?
“With companies such as SES, HITEC and Luxspace, Luxembourg already has companies that are active in this area – and who collaborate with public research through schemes such as industry and innovation partnerships (PPPs). There have also been collaborative projects between the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology and NASA, and adding to this Luxembourg also has experts in space law. Soon, the HPC computer will arrive, which will be extremely valuable, as the processing of enormous amounts of data is indispensable in order for space mining to work. And last, but not least, Luxembourg has skills in big data, material sciences and law – so the overall package is a good fit.”
Jean-Paul Bertemes, Chief Editor of the FNR-run website science.lu is also present, and the trip will be followed by a series of space-related articles on science.lu. In the lead up to the economic mission, Etienne Schneider gave an interview to science.lu about space mining.
About the Space Resources.lu initiative
In February 2016 the Luxembourg Government announced a series of measures to position Luxembourg as a European hub in the exploration and use of space resources. Amongst the key steps undertaken, as part of the spaceresources.lu initiative, will be the development of a legal and regulatory framework confirming certainty about the future ownership of minerals extracted in space from Near Earth Objects (NEO’s) such as asteroids.
Luxembourg is the first European country to announce its intention to set out a formal legal framework which ensures that private operators working in space can be confident about their rights to the resources they extract, i.e. rare minerals from asteroids. In November 2016, the Luxembourg Government has adopted a draft law ensuring that private operators working in space can be confident about their rights to the resources they extract in outer space.
In June 2016, he Luxembourg Government, the public-law banking institution “Société Nationale de Crédit et d’Investissement” (SNCI) and U.S.-based aerospace technology company Planetary Resources signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) providing the framework for their cooperation within Luxembourg’s SpaceResources.lu initiative which aims at the exploration and commercial utilization of resources from Near Earth Objects (NEOs), such as asteroids. The economic mission to the US taking part in April 2017, includes a visit to the Planetary Resources headquarters, based in the US state of Washington.
Published 13 April 2017