Luxembourg, a small European country about the size of Rhode Island, wants to be the Silicon Valley of the space mining industry. The landlocked Grand Duchy announced Friday it was opening a €200 million ($225 million) line of credit for entrepreneurial space companies to set up their European headquarters within its borders.
Luxembourg has already reached agreements with two US-based companies, Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries, to open offices in Luxembourg and conduct major research and development activities. “We intend to become the European center for asteroid mining,” said Étienne Schneider, deputy prime minister and minister of the economy, during a news conference Friday.
The mining of space resources is a long bet. Although some deep-pocketed investors from Google and other companies have gotten behind Planetary Resources, and people like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos have speculated that within a couple of decades most manufacturing and resource gathering will be done off Earth, there is precious little activity today. Humans have never visited an asteroid, and NASA is only just planning to launch its first robotic mission to visit and gather samples from an asteroid, OSIRIS-REx, this summer.