Asteroid mining is gaining some serious traction.
This week American asteroid mining company Deep Space Industries announced that it’s signed an agreement with the Luxembourg government and the country’s national banking institution to further development of technology meant to commercialize space resources as part of the country’s spaceresources.lu initiative.
Together, the consortium will initially work to develop the Prospector-X, an experimental nano-spacecraft that will initially operate in low-Earth orbit and test the company’s deep-space technology.
“We have been impressed by Luxembourg’s tangible actions to lead the creation of an asteroid resource economy,” said Daniel Faber, CEO of Deep Space Industries, in a statement. “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.”
Deep Space Industries will build the Prospector-X at its European headquarters, in Luxembourg, with assistance from American and international partners, including University of Luxembourg’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability, and Trust.
When the spacecraft is launched, the team will test out its water-based propulsion system, radiation-tolerant avionics, and optical navigation system.
Luxembourg and Deep Space Industries aren’t the only parties interested in mining asteroids for their potential resources. According to Popular Science, company Planetary Resources launched a similar mission from the International Space Station last year, testing their Arkyd 3 Reflight spacecraft.
Additionally, in November 2015, President Barack Obama signed the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act into law.
“Under Title IV of the law, and for the first time in history, U.S. citizens including commercial entities are now entitled the explicit right to own resources extracted from space, such as water ice from asteroids,” according to Sagi Kfir, Deep Space Industries general counsel.
However, that does not mean miners own the asteroid, as such actions of “national appropriation by claims of sovereignty” are prohibited by the Outer Space Treaty of 1967.
As spaceresource.lu explains, the situation is akin to fishermen on international waters. The water and fish are unowned, but the fishermen are allowed to put nets in the water, and retrieve the nets. Once caught fish are on deck, the fishermen own the fish.
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