The tiny European country of Luxembourg has a big new goal. It wants to become a center for space mining, and it's working hard to get the legal framework for this ready in time for mining activities to start.
Luxembourg's government on Wednesday announced a series of measures aimed at turning the duchy into a European hub for the exploration and use of space resources.
It announced a mining venture to seek gold, platinum and other minerals from some of the 13,000 asteroids near Earth. While such mining activities are believed to be at least a decade away, Luxembourg wants to make sure it has a law in place to provide legal clarity to the commercial exploitation of space minerals.
This is to boost confidence among operators working in space that they actually own the rights to the resources they extract.
Luxembourg reported it would also invest in relevant R&D projects and consider direct capital investment in companies active in this field such as Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources from the US.
"Our aim is to open access to a wealth of previously unexplored mineral resources on lifeless rocks hurling through space," Luxembourg's Economy Minister, Etienne Schneider, said while announcing the spaceresources.lu initiative on Wednesday.
Jean-Jaques Dordain, a former director general of the European Space Agency (ESA), praised the initiative, calling it proof of Europeans' drive for innovation.
"While futuristic, the project is based on solid grounds, for instance technical prowess that already exists in Europe and around the world," he commented.
hg/sri (AFP, dpa, Reuters)