Luxembourg gov't, Tokyo firm partner in space resources initiative

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The Luxembourg government has announced an agreement with Tokyo-based space robotics company ispace Inc. to develop miniaturized technology to discover, map, and utilize resources on the moon.

Under the initiative, ispace said it will focus, through its European office based in Luxembourg, on business development, R&D and on several key technical services, including payload development, engineering, and integration.

The Luxembourg government, on the other hand, will provide funding through national R&D grants or programs of the European Space Agency (ESA) to co-fund relevant research and development activities such as the ispace roving spectrometer.  

This project aims to bring an innovative mass spectrometer developed by the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) to the surface of the moon to explore elemental compositions of the lunar ice and regolith.

The company ispace Europe SA will be hosted in Luxembourg City within the facilities of Paul Wurth InCub which offers, in cooperation with the national business incubator Technoport, a dedicated support program for innovative and technology-driven companies.

“With ispace from Japan, we welcome another foreign company which chose our country as a European hub for developing highly advanced technologies and capabilities like robotics for exploring and mining resources in space,” Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy, Étienne Schneider.
Meanwhile, high-level experts from China and South Korea will join the international advisory board, which is guiding the Luxembourg government’s initiative. The program aims to promote the commercial use of resources gathered from celestial bodies such as asteroids or from the moon, according to the  Luxembourg Ministry of the Economy.
The three new members of the advisory board include Professor Wu Ji, chief scientist and project leader of the Strategic Priority Program on Space Science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences; Seoul National University Professor Emeritus Seung Jo Kim, a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics as well as of the Institute of Physics, and has served as President of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute for three years from 2011; and Jean-Louis Schiltz, guest professor at the University of Luxembourg and member of the advisory board of the Smart Sustainable Development Model of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

These three new members  join Georges Schmit, former Consul General and Executive Director at the Luxembourg Trade & Investment Office in San Francisco; Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA) from 2003 to 2015; and Dr. Simon "Pete” Worden, former Director of NASA-Ames Research Center in California, who already serve as high-level advisors to guide the Luxembourg government.

“I am delighted to welcome these three new members whose valuable experience and expertise further strengthen the Advisory Board. Their contribution and advice will have an important positive impact on future activities of the initiative,” said Schneider.