On 13 July 2017, the Luxembourg Parliament adopted, by a large majority, the bill of law n° 7093 which creates a unique legal framework for the commercial exploration and utilisation of space resources, also referred to as “space mining”.
The new law is one key element of Luxembourg’s ambitious initiative “Space Resources” that has recourse to prominent advice by astrophysicist Dr Simon Peter Worden, former European Space Agency head Jean-Jacques Dordain and Georges Schmit, director of the Luxembourg Trade & Investment Office in San Francisco. Another pillar of the initiative is the co-funding of space companies such as “Planetary Resources” and “Deep Space Industries”. The latter’s Luxembourg branch is currently developing a spacecraft called “Prospector-X”, with the aim of facilitating space mining.
The new law paves the way for space missions to prospect and use space resources, and sets out:
- that space resources can be subject to appropriation;
- that space missions need to be carried out by a Luxembourg-based company;
- the requirements to be met by companies to obtain legal approval for their missions;
- the responsibilities for damages occurring on space missions; and
- the penal sanctions that can be imposed when infringing the law.
Legislation related to space mining is not without potential conflict, as Article 2 of the United Nations’ Outer Space Treaty (1967) states that “outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means the limitations to allocation of property on resources in outer space”. However, the Outer Space Treaty does not explicitly prohibit the appropriation of space resources by companies.
As a result of the above, the Luxembourg Parliament launched a motion encouraging the Government to continue negotiation with international organisations to amend the existing multilateral treaty and clarify possible ambiguities.
To accelerate business activities in this emerging and promising new sector, the Ministry of Economy cooperates with the European Investment Bank in order to promote further investment in this field and assure Luxembourg’s position as one of the first countries for space mining.