Planetary Resources says it has finalized a $28 million (€25 million) agreement with Luxembourg to ramp up its asteroid mining campaign.
The deal calls for the tiny European nation’s government and one of its top banking institutions, the Société Nationale de Crédit et d’Investissement, to provide €12 million ($13.5 million) in direct capital investment and €13 million ($14.5 million) in grants, Planetary Resources announced today.
George Schmit, an advisory board member of Luxembourg’s SpaceResources.lu initiative, is joining the company’s board of directors. Planetary Resources, which is based in Redmond, Wash., will also establish a European headquarters in Luxembourg.
The agreement follows through on a memorandum of understanding that was announced in June.
“We are excited in welcoming the Grand Duchy as a partner and an investor,” Planetary Resources President and CEO Chris Lewicki said in a news release. “Just as the country’s vision and initiative propelled the satellite communications industry through its public-private partnerships, this funding and support will fast-track our business — advancing and building upon our substantial accomplishments.”
Étienne Schneider, Luxembourg’s deputy prime minister, said the deal demonstrates his country’s “strong commitment to support the national space sector by attracting innovative activities in space resource utilization and other related areas.”
This isn’t Luxembourg’s first foray into the space industry: In 1985, the government became one of the founding shareholders in the SES satellite telecom company, which is headquartered in Luxembourg.
The government is also partnering with another asteroid mining venture, California-based Deep Space Industries.
Planetary Resources is developing spacecraft that are designed to survey near-Earth asteroids for potentially valuable resources, Even the water ice on asteroids can be converted into fuel and for interplanetary trips.
The company had its first experimental mini-satellite launched last year, and it’s getting an infrared-imaging satellite called Arkyd 6 ready to go into Earth orbit next year.
Arkyd 6 is designed to blaze the trail for a constellation of Earth-observing satellites known as Ceres, as well as more sophisticated spacecraft that can analyze and eventually extract materials from asteroids.
“We plan to launch the first commercial asteroid prospecting mission by 2020,” Lewicki said, “and look forward to collaborating with our European partner in this pivotal new industry.”