The Arkyd 6 satellite is set to launch before the end of the year to test increased capabilities of asteroid mining technologies.
Image: Planetary Resources.
By Cameron Drummond
BUDDING asteroid miner Planetary Resources has secured 25 million euro of funding from the Luxembourg Government to aid its goal of launching the first ever commercial asteroid prospecting mission by 2020.
The agreement consists of a direct capital investment of 12m euro from the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and a further 13m euro in grants from the country’s public-law banking institution Société Nationale de Crédit et d’Investissement (SNCI).
The small but wealthy European nation already has a long-standing space industry dating back to 1985, having played a significant role in the development of satellite communications.
“We are excited in welcoming the Grand Duchy as a partner and an investor,” Planetary Resources chief executive Chris Lewicki said.
“Just as the country’s vision and initiative propelled the satellite communications industry through its public-private partnerships, this funding and support will fast-track our business — advancing and building upon our substantial accomplishments.”
In June this year Luxembourg opened up a 200m euro line of credit for entrepreneurial space companies to set up within its borders; which Planetary Resources took advantage of with the creation of its Luxembourg-based subsidiary Planetary Resources Luxembourg.
The country was also the first in Europe to lay out legal guidelines for asteroid mining.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy Étienne Schneider said the cooperation was within the framework of Luxembourg’s SpaceResources.lu initiative, aimed at the exploration and commercial utilisation of resources from Near Earth Objects (NEO’s) such as asteroids.
“The Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg becoming a shareholder in Planetary Resources seals our partnership and lays the ground of the principles of our cooperation in the years to come, while demonstrating the Government’s strong commitment to support the national space sector by attracting innovative activities in space resource utilization and other related areas,” Mr Schneider said.
Planetary Resources boasts an impressive founding investor list that includes Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson, Google founder Larry Page and its ex-chief executive Eric Schmidt, as well as US real estate magnate Ross Perot Jr.