The Way Every Sci-Fi Movie War Starts. Thanks, Luxembourg.
You wouldn’t think a tiny country like Luxembourg would want to provoke the wrath of aliens by announcing plans for space mining, the reason behind so many intergalactic conflicts (see Star Wars, Total Recall, Alien, Avatar, Dune, etc.). But that’s just what they’ve done. Last week they announced the first European government initiative to begin mining minerals from asteroids.
The idea is to relieve the pressure on Earth’s resources by getting them from space instead. Luxembourg is also betting their new business will encourage the exploration of space.
Etienne Schneider, Luxembourg’s economy minister, told The Christian Science Monitor that, “Our aim is to open access to a wealth of previously unexplored mineral resources on lifeless rocks hurling through space, without damaging natural habitats.” At least not our own natural habitats.
Not everyone is pleased about Luxembourg’s announcement, and have noted it violates what’s viewed as one of the United Nations’ most significant accomplishments, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Vladimir Kopal, ex- Legal Subcommittee chairman of the UN’s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space says the treaty needs to be respected since it’s already possibly prevented the complete destruction of humanity thanks to its moderating effect on space-based weaponry. Luxembourg believes their plan doesn’t violate the treaty.
The whole thing’s not as out-there as it may seem, since Luxembourg is home to SES, one of the world’s biggest communication-satellite operators. In addition, Luxembourg may have been reading the writing on the wall, since the U.S. passed the SPACE Act of 2015 that awards mineral right to whoever brings the minerals back down to earth.
There’s little question that space-business competition is taking off. Hopefully nobody out there will notice.