Luxembourg joins asteroid mining space race
With a population of under 600,000, it's not surprising Luxembourg isn't currently on the list of spacefaring nations. But that hasn't stopped its government, along with the Luxembourg Société Nationale de Crédit et d'Investissement (SNCI), entering into a partnership with the US asteroid mining company Deep Space Industries (DSI) as part of the country's spaceresources.lu initiative to develop new commercial space technologies with an emphasis on asteroid mining.
According to DSI, the Luxembourg space program, (LuxIMPULSE) will co-fund R&D projects beginning with DSI's Prospector-X technology demonstrator satellite. This low-Earth orbit minisatellite is designed to prove the practicality of DSI's technology for deep space missions to seek out, survey, and mine asteroids for water and minerals.
The Prospector-X will be built at DSI's new European headquarters in Luxembourg with the support of the company's American and international partners. It consists of three cubesat units measuring 30-cm (12-in) long and a set of solar panels. In addition, it has a two-camera navigational system for operating close to asteroids and other targets, electrothermal thrusters using water propellant, and modular, radiation-tolerant avionics.
"We have been impressed by Luxembourg's tangible actions to lead the creation of an asteroid resource economy," says Daniel Faber, CEO of Deep Space Industries. "The opportunity to partner with Luxembourg on Prospector-X allows a number of the key technologies for cost-effective deep space operations to be rapidly flight-tested in advance of more complex missions. We are also excited to be bringing that performance and reliability to the small satellite market."