Tag Archives: Luxembourg

China and Luxembourg sign space cooperation agreement

The new colonial movement: China and Luxembourg have signed a space cooperation agreement that includes the creation of a research facility in Luxembourg.

The press release doesn’t really provide any real specifics, but if I had to guess based on what’s there I would say that the two countries are probably trying to make a partnership that will give them more clout in establishing their ownership of territory in space. Or to put it another way, each probably now agrees that they will honor the claims and regulatory rules of the other.

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Luxembourg and UAE sign space agreement

The new colonial movement: The governments of Luxembourg and the United Arab Emirates yesterday signed a space agreement, focused on working together to promote the development of space resources.

The press release is vague about the details in the agreement, though it is obvious that both nations are interested in promoting the profitable uses of space.

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Another space company partners with Luxembourg

Capitalism in space: Luxembourg has formed a new business partnership with Magna Parva, a United Kingdom company, to develop in-space manufacturing technology.

Within the framework of this MoU, the developments and research to take place in Luxembourg are related to the project for in-space manufacturing of composite beams equipped with antennas. Kleos Space will collaborate with EmTroniX, a Luxembourg-based company specialized in electronics development, as well as with the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) on this subject. The Government will support the development of the in-space manufacturing technology by providing funding through the Luxembourg space program (LuxIMPULSE).

I suspect the manufacturing will be some form of 3D printing. However, it is unclear to me where in space this manufacturing will take place. Will it occur on ISS or the Chinese space station expected to launch in a few years? Or is Luxembourg planning some new venture that either includes some privately built station (Bigelow?) or an unmanned robot in orbit?

Either way, Luxembourg is once again investing its tax revenue in what it thinks will be profitable endeavors in space, and that venture capitalism is continuing to attract companies to that nation.

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Luxembourg parliament adopts draft space law

Capitalism in space: The Luxembourg parliament yesterday adopted a draft space law that will allow that country to authorize, under the Outer Space Treaty, future private enterprise missions in space, including mining on the Moon and the asteroids.

The press release makes the following claim:

The Grand Duchy is thus the first European country to offer a legal framework ensuring that private operators can be confident about their rights on resources they extract in space. The law will come into force on August 1, 2017. Its first article provides that space resources are capable of being owned. The country’s law also establishes the procedures for authorizing and supervising space exploration missions.

In reading the actual law [pdf], however, I do not think this really does what they claim. All the law does is simply state that “Space resources are capable of being appropriated.” That’s it. They are essentially saying that any private profit-oriented mission that launches under Luxembourg’s authorization will have their blessing to take as much from any planetary body as they desire. No property rights are delineated, including the borders of any territory owned, which is not surprising since the Outer Space Treaty forbids Luxembourg from doing so.

In fact, I think this illustrates for us all the future as we colonize the solar system, assuming the Outer Space Treaty is not revised or dumped. Like pirates, nations (or their citizens) will grab as much as they can, and will then use force to protect those holdings from any one else. Everyone will have to do this, because there will be no legal framework to establish their claims.

Since it appears, at least for the present, that no one wants to change the Outer Space Treaty, expect the future in space to be a brutal legal nightmare for all involved.

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Luxembourg offers prizes for new space business proposals

Capitalism in space: Luxembourg yesterday announced that it will award two prizes, worth a total of 430,000 Euros, for new innovative space business ideas.

The call for submissions covers the full chain for exploiting space resources, from searching for minerals, mining and selling the processed product.The proposals should include a long-term view for developing space resources and be able to generate an economic return in the short and medium term.

The first award is a €400,000 prize to support a study under the Luxembourg national space program managed by the ESA. The second, for €30,000, is for early-stage projects and offers an investing campaign on www.spacestarters.com.

The ministry will support both award winners by offering workspace for the companies.

It sounds like they will entertain practically any ideas put forth. The deadline to submit is September 8, with the award announcement made in November.

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Luxembourg revises space law to address Outer Space Treaty

Luxembourg has revised its proposed new space law in order to try to address the property right concerns posed by the Outer Space Treaty.

The legislation is patterned on the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015, which includes provisions that grant U.S. companies the rights to resources they extract from asteroids or other celestial bodies. One difference, Schneider said, will be that while the U.S. law requires companies to be based in the country, Luxembourg’s protections would cover companies regardless of their location. “We don’t really care where the money comes from,” he said.

The bill also creates a system for the authorization and continuing supervision of commercial space activities that are regulated by the country. The lack of similar policy in the United States for “non-traditional” commercial space activities like asteroid mining — required, many argue, in order to comply with Article 6 of the Outer Space Treaty — has been an issue debated in the last few years.

…Luxembourg is also in the process of creating a national space agency, Schneider said. The country is a member of the European Space Agency but has not previously had its own national agency. However, he said the agency will be structured differently than those in other countries. “This space agency will not be a copy of NASA or ESA, but it will be a space agency whose only focus on the commercial use of space resources,” he said. It will be set up a public-private partnership between the government and private funds.

I would say that the competition in space is definitely now heating up. These actions by Luxembourg might not solve the legal problems with the Outer Space Treaty, but they will certainly up the pressure on the world’s space-faring nations to face the issue.

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Luxembourg rejects proposed space legislation because of Outer Space Treaty

Luxembourg’s legislature has rejected a proposed space regulatory framework because it did not address the legal restrictions on property rights imposed by the United Nations Outer Space Treaty.

Schneider, the deputy prime minister and minister for economy, presented a bill whose objective was to set a legal framework and give legal security to the property of minerals and other valuable resources in space, in particular on asteroids, and to regulate the authorisation and surveillance of both exploration and mining missions.

In a formal opinion published on 7 April, the council noted that private property claims are illegal or at least not legally binding in most of the international treaties and agreements relating to space and celestial bodies.

Neither the UN treaty on principles governing the activities of states in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies of 1967, nor the agreement governing the activities of states on the moon and other celestial bodies of 1979 (which was not ratified by Luxembourg) answer the question of private property of space resources.

What is most important here is that the Luxembourg government now intends to “to ask for a revision of the question of property in the Outer Space Treaty.” As I said in my op-ed in The Federalist on Monday, nations are increasingly recognizing that the Outer Space Treaty is a problem for property rights, and needs to be revised. Otherwise, private development will be difficult if not impossible.

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Luxembourg establishes its own legal framework for asteroid mining

The competition heats up: Luxembourg on November 11 announced that it is establishing its own legal framework to protect the profits of any private asteroid mining effort.

Because the UN Outer Space Treaty forbids them from claiming any territory in space, this new law essentially says that Luxembourg law will instead be applied specifically to the resources mined. Or to put it in more colloquial terms, “Finders, Keepers,” though it comes with a lot of complex further regulation required to satisfy that treaty.

The draft law also lays down the regulations for the authorization and the supervision of space resources utilization missions, including both the exploration and use of such resources. Whoever intends to undertake a space resources utilization mission will be required to obtain an authorization to do so, for each specific and determined mission. The text sets forth the necessity for a book of obligations for any mission, such as activities to be carried in or out of Luxembourg, to allow government supervision of the activities of operators and regulating their rights and obligations. The legislation is expected to enter into effect in early 2017.

This complexity will cost money unnecessarily, and also require an unnecessary bureaucracy with a great deal of power over the actions of space companies. It illustrates again how really bad the Outer Space Treaty is, and how it will oppress future spacefarers. The sooner the treaty is dumped the better. If we don’t do it here on Earth, I guarantee that the people of space will do it, as soon as they become self-sufficient enough to thumb their noses at the ground-pounders on the mother planet.

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Luxembourg invests $28 million into asteroid mining company

The competition heats up: In its continuing effort to make money from space, the government of Luxembourg has invested $28 million in the asteroid mining company Planetary Resources.

As part of the deal, Planetary Resources is establishing a European headquarters in Luxembourg that will conduct research and development activities. Georges Schmit, a member of the Space Resources advisory board to the Government of Luxembourg, wil join Planetary’s board. “We plan to launch the first commercial asteroid prospecting mission by 2020 and look forward to collaborating with our European partner in this pivotal new industry,” said Chris Lewicki, Planetary Resources chief executive.

As with Luxembourg’s other deals, the investment has required the company to shift many of its operations from the U.S. to Luxembourg.

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Chinese company agrees to buy Israeli satellite company

Wheels within wheels: A Chinese company, managed by a Luxembourg company that in turn delegates management of its satellites to an Israeli-based company, has made a deal to purchase Spacecom, a different Israeli company that operates and owns the Amos fleet of communications satellites.

Observers said the deal could meet up with opposition from regulators, including the Communications Ministry. But Pollack said the transaction would be done in accordance with Spacecom’s license terms, which require the satellites be operated from Israel and that the company remain Israeli. The sale would put Spacecom under the direct control of an Israeli-domiciled company called Big Bird, which is managed by Major General (Res.) Ami Shafran, a former head of the Israel Defense Forces communications branch. Big Bird is 100%-owned by a Luxembourg company, which in turn is owned by Beijing Xinwei.

To say this financial deal is complicated is to understate the situation. Though it appears most everyone here is probably focused on making money, if I was Israeli I would be somewhat concerned that ownership of these crucial communications satellites is now going to be outside the country.

I also note the presence of Luxembourg in this space deal, illustrating again that this small European country is very much a big player in the commercial space industry.

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Deep Space Industries to fly probe to asteroid

The competition heats up: A private company, Deep Space Industries (DSI), has announced plans to send the first privately-built probe to an asteroid before the end of the decade.

Recently, Deep Space Industries and its partner, the government of Luxembourg, announced plans to build and fly Prospector-X™, an experimental mission to low-Earth orbit that will test key technologies needed for low-cost exploration spacecraft. This precursor mission is scheduled to launch in 2017. Then, before the end of this decade, Prospector-1 will travel beyond Earth’s orbit to begin the first space mining exploration mission.

Note that this funding is another example of the Luxembourg government’s effort to invest in commercial space, for profit.

If all goes as planned, the rest of this decade should be very exciting. We will have a private mission to the Moon, a private mission to an asteroid, and a private mission to Mars. All will cost pennies compared to what the government spends. All will be built and launched quickly, compared to how long the government takes. And all will be for profit, which is certainly not what the government is interested in.

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Luxembourg purchases 49% stake in Planetary Resources

The competition heats up: Following through in its commitment to invest funds in futures space industries, the government of Luxembourg has signed an agreement with Planetary Resources in which it takes 49% equity share of the company.

It is clear that Luxembourg’s goal is to make itself the center of the world for all future space-based industries, and this quote illustrates this:

The Luxembourg government investment adds a powerful incentive to relocate some of this development to Luxembourg before Ceres satellite production is too solidly anchored on the U.S. West Coast. In May, health-care and agricultural research giant Bayer of Monheim, Germany, and Planetary Resources announced they had signed a memorandum of understanding under which Bayer “intends to purchase data from Planetary Resources to create new agricultural products and improve existing ones. The collaboration will be part of the Digital Farming Initiative at Bayer.” Schneider has said the spaceresources.lu program would distinguish itself from U.S.-based efforts by being more international. Companies setting up shop in Luxembourg need not prove Luxembourg-based majority ownership to receive the full suite of regulatory advantages.

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Luxembourg to invest $200 million in space mining

The competition heats up: The government of Luxembourg has budgeted $200 million to invest in private proposals to mine asteroids for profit.

This government commitment is different than other government space projects in that they are not creating a “space program”, they are literally acting as a venture capitalist, putting their money into private efforts in exchange for profit.

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Luxembourg signs deal with asteroid mining company

The competition heats up: As part of its outer space development program, the government of Luxembourg has signed a deal with asteroid mining company Deep Space, Inc. to build an orbital demonstration test satellite.

The inaugural project of this exciting new partnership is Prospector-X™, an experimental, low Earth orbit technology demonstration mission, designed to test the company’s innovative deep space technology. These key enabling technologies will be instrumental to the success of the company’s first deep space resource exploration missions in the near future. The Prospector-X spacecraft will be built at Deep Space Industries’ new European headquarters, in Luxembourg, in conjunction with the company’s international and American partners, including the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability, and Trust (SnT) at the University of Luxembourg.

It essentially appears that Luxembourg is creating its own space program, focused entirely on profit by acting as the venture capitalist for private commercial companies. Most interesting.

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Luxembourg to establish space property rights

The competition heats up: The government of Luxembourg today announced an initiative to establish a legal framework that will ensure property rights in space for private investors.

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. Such a legal framework will be worked out in full consideration of international law. Luxembourg is eager to engage with other countries on this matter within a multilateral framework.

The announcement is a bit vague about what exactly Luxembourg really plans to do. For example, it is unclear if this framework will only apply to Luxembourg citizens, or will be used to bring the private efforts from other countries to Luxembourg (the more likely scenario). It also does not tell us how the initiative will deal with the UN Outer Space Treaty, which essentially outlaws countries from establishing their own legal framework in space. Individuals can supposedly own private property in space under that treaty, but no country can claim territory or impose its own legal framework on any territory, thus making any private property claims unclear and weak.

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