Luxembourg Just Passed A New Asteroid Mining Law

Remember when NASA visited an asteroid with $10 quintillion worth of minerals? Now the lucrative asteroid-mining industry is being pursued by “the European banking hub with a population not much bigger than Albuquerque’s,” reports Bloomberg, as low-cost reconnaissance missions are already looking “increasingly feasible.” An anonymous reader writes:

Last week Luxembourg’s parliament unanimously passed an asteroid mining law (which goes into effect Tuesday) “that gives companies ownership of what they extract from the celestial bodies…” according to Engadget. “Luxembourg’s law is pretty similar to the one President Obama signed back in 2015 in that it gives mining companies the right to keep their loot. Both of them also take advantage of a loophole in the UN’s Outer Space Treaty, which states that nations can’t claim and occupy the moon and other celestial bodies. They don’t give companies ownership of asteroids, after all, only the minerals they extract.. Unlike the U.S. version, though, a company’s major stakeholders don’t need to be based in Luxembourg to enjoy its protection — they only need to have an office in country.”

Bloomberg reports that the law “could serve as a model for other small countries hoping to explore asteroids — and to get a piece of the booming space business,” since the tiny country is also offering to buy equity stakes in any companies which relocate to Luxembourg. “Luxembourg’s success in attracting these companies should show other small countries that space isn’t just for superpowers any more… Competition has made space achievable for many more companies, and for the countries that support them.”
For the last few years Luxembourg has begun quietly investing in asteroid mining, including a joint venture with “Deep Space Industries” to build a spacecraft to test asteroid-mining technologies — while another collaboration with Kleos Space is working on “in-space manufacturing technology.”

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