Luxembourg accepts full loss from Planetary Resources investment

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Capitalism in space: Luxembourg this week admitted that its 12 million euro investment in Planetary Resources is a complete loss.

They had sold off their ten percent investment when a blockchain company purchased Planetary Resources on November 1. This article merely confirms the full loss from the companies sale.

When Planetary Resources was first revealed, the mainstream press went nuts touting its claims that it was an asteroid mining company, mostly because of the supposed involvement of several rich Google investors. I however had reservations, mainly because the company was selling itself as an asteroid mining company when there was no chance it was going to do any mining, for at least a decade.

Simply put, I do not like it when companies or governments make false and unrealistic claims. It raises a red flag in the back of my mind, which in turn makes me suspect that the company or government is almost certainly not going to achieve what it claims. Over the past decades I have learned to take that red flag seriously, and this is another case where it served me well.



  • Edward

    At least Planetary Resources admitted up front that asteroid mining was an eventual goal and that it had a different business model for immediate revenue, a model that would help the company get to its later goal.

    The real problem is that the business model failed to work.

  • Edward: Actually, Planetary Resources was not very up front about their goals. They sold themselves loudly as an “asteroid mining company” even though they weren’t going to do that for years. From what I could tell, I was almost the only news reporter at the time that noted this.

  • Col Beausabre

    I wonder how Luxembourg’s tax payers feel after taking a bath on this. Once more we see the failure of governments trying to pick winners in the stock market

  • Edward

    Col Beausabre wrote: “I wonder how Luxembourg’s tax payers feel after taking a bath on this. Once more we see the failure of governments trying to pick winners in the stock market

    Luxembourg is less picking winners in the stock market and more attracting business within its borders. In this case, as sometimes happens, the business did not work out.

    SpaceX is somewhat guilty of a similar occurrence. SpaceX received some money in order to develop its Boca Chica (Brownsville) launch site by a certain time. Overcome by events, SpaceX was not able to achieve this goal, so the company returned the incentive money. The differences here is that Planetary Resources could not return Luxembourg’s money (I don’t know whether that was part of the deal) and SpaceX will soon perform flight tests and launches in Texas.

    Luxembourg’s tax payers should feel similar to a venture capitalist who lost out on one of several investments. Luxembourg has several other irons in the fire, so they should still be able to become the space power that they hope to be.

    I found this explanation of Luxembourg’s income tax structure, and it seems that the taxes are low there, relative to neighboring countries.

  • William Carlton

    This take about Planetary Resources playing hide the ball with their business model does not wash. Who are these people who were investing millions under the impression that they were going to make a quick and easy buck? Who was stroking eight-figure checks on the assumption of anything less than a timescale of decades to capitalize on the gazillions of dollars of value floating around space? Planetary Resources made a pitch that was pretty transparent, as far as I could tell, going back to 2012 or so when I first encountered it. Plenty of other companies in high tech are money sinks for investors to fuel progress toward long-term jackpots. From the outset, the business proposition from Planetary Resources has been clearly presented as a more extreme version of this. You stand to get very, very, very rich, but you have to wait a very long time to cash in.

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