Tag Archives: Luxembourg

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.