What’s the 21st-century equivalent of the Gold Rush? Why, the Asteroid Rush, of course. On Thursday, asteroid mining company Planetary Resources, Inc. announced the finalization of a 25 million euro financing agreement, which will aid in the ultimate goal of “launching the first commercial asteroid prospecting mission by 2020.” That’s right, friends. We’re going mining in space.
Involved in the deal are the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the banking institution Société Nationale de Crédit et d’Investissement (SNCI), who have contributed 12 million euros and grants of 13 million euros, respectively. “We are excited in welcoming the Grand Duchy as a partner and an investor. 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,” said Chris Lewicki, president and CEO of Planetary Resources, Inc. “We plan to launch the first commercial asteroid prospecting mission by 2020 and look forward to collaborating with our European partner in this pivotal new industry.”
For its part, Luxembourg seems thrilled to be partaking in such a modern enterprise, with Étienne Schneider, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy, noting, “The Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg becoming a shareholder in Planetary Resources seals our partnership and lays the ground of the principles of our cooperation in the years to come, while demonstrating the Government’s strong commitment to support the national space sector by attracting innovative activities in space resource utilization and other related areas.” He added, “The Grand Duchy has a renowned history in public-private partnerships. In 1985, Luxembourg became one of the founding shareholders of SES, a landmark for satellite telecommunications and now a world leader in this sector.”
Already, some of the key hardware and software from the Planetary Resources team has been tested in outer space, but their next missions hope to use sensors that “will acquire key data related to the presence of water and water-bearing minerals on asteroids.” This, the company hopes, will aid in fast-tracking the “off-planet economic activities.”