The least populated country in the European Union has its eyes on space. Luxembourg, a country with only 465,000 inhabitants, announced that the country will be making a big investment in asteroid mining.
While the tiny country already has much to brag about, from five Eurovision Song Contest wins to the highest nominal GDP in the world, Luxembourg believes that investments in a yet-unrealized asteroid mining industry will help it live long and prosper in a world where minerals are becoming increasingly scarce.
Luxembourg is already known as a country for innovators. It is the headquarters of satellite operator and telecommunications giant SES. The country has also promoted itself as a haven for IT companies. Now Luxembourg wants to be a hub for space mining companies.
Two U.S.-based start-up companies currently lead the race for the asteroid mining fortune. Deepspace Industries and Planetary Resources have assembled teams to design spacecraft that can survey asteroid targets and extract ores. Jean-Jacques Dordian, the former head of the European Space Agency, told BBC News that he hopes Luxembourg’s investments will encourage European entrepreneurs and innovators to follow the example of these American companies so that European investments in the sector stay in Europe.
Development of an asteroid mining operation could give Luxembourg a big return on its investment. Scientists have speculated that a small metallic asteroid could contain precious metals worth more than $20 trillion.
But asteroid mining is risky. Current costs associated with space exploration make asteroid mining prohibitively expensive. That may change as advances
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