Financial Times Special Report: Space Mining Takes Giant Leap from Sci-Fi to Reality

Luxembourg sets sights on extraterrestrial extraction industry

A remarkable law took effect in Luxembourg in August. It provides a legal framework for private companies to exploit resources in space — a sign of the Grand Duchy’s plan to become a global leader for extraterrestrial mining.

Reactions to Luxembourg’s space ambitions have moved from incredulity a couple of years ago to guarded admiration. Mainstream space circles see the idea of an extraction industry on asteroids and/or the moon as a serious long-term proposition rather than fantasy.

Resources will be used in space, starting with water which can be split by solar power into oxygen and hydrogen fuel for spaceships. Metals for space manufacturing such as iron, tungsten and titanium will follow. Bringing precious metals to Earth is a long term dream.

Luxembourg has a history of investing in industries on the eve of take off. It built its economy on a formidable steel industry during the industrial revolution. Later, it moved into financial services, broadcasting and satellite technology, founding SES, the world’s largest private satellite operator, in the 1980s.

We are convinced that the exploration and use of space resources will be necessary, in a first step to facilitate further exploration of outer space [providing fuel and other materials for spacecraft] and at a later stage to meet some of the needs down on Earth,

says Etienne Schneider, Luxembourg’s deputy prime minister.

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