Throughout human history, resources have been the driving force behind the exploration and colonization of our planet and also the means to do so. Similarly, resources beyond Earth will make space the next target in search of further exploration and economic expansion of our species. The multitude of celestial bodies surrounding the Earth and the space between them hold an enormous wealth of resources for a variety of applications. Unlimited solar energy, vacuum, radiation and low gravity in space, as well as minerals, metals, water, atmospheric gases and volatile elements on the Moon, asteroids, comets and the inner and outer planets of the solar system and their moons represent potentially valuable resources for robotic and manned space missions and for future use on our own planet. In the short term, these resources could be converted into useful materials where they are located, extending the duration of the mission and reducing the costly reliance on materials sent from Earth. The production of human fuels and consumables from local resources can significantly reduce the mass, cost and risk of the mission, allowing for longer stays and powering transportation systems for use inside and outside the surface of the planet. The use of fine-grained dust and surface rocks can be used for habitat and infrastructure construction, radiation protection, parts manufacturing and plant cultivation. Eventually, material resources and solar energy could also be put on land if extracting these resources and meeting local energy demand prove economically or ecologically unjustifiable. When we refer to the Liability Convention, we mean the 1972 Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects. This Convention stipulates, inter alia, that the launching State is liable for damage caused by its space objects on the surface of the Earth or to aircraft and for damage resulting from its failures in outer space.
Luxembourg has ratified this Convention. Space resources are generally defined as abiotic resources outside our atmosphere that can be extracted. This definition should include minerals or water, but does not include orbital positions or frequencies. It provides the basic framework for international space law. The Luxembourg Space Agency aims to promote the space industry in Luxembourg (space mining, telecommunications, satellites, etc.) by: When we talk about the Registration Convention, we are referring to the 1975 Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space. The objective of the Convention is to provide States with a means of assisting in the identification of space objects. Luxembourg has not signed the Convention since 1 April 2019. However, just as on Earth, not all challenges related to the identification, extraction and exploitation of space resources are scientific and technological. As nations and private companies begin to work on extracting extraterrestrial resources, an international legal framework and sound socio-economic policies must be put in place to ensure that these resources are used for the benefit of all humanity. Space resources promise to unleash an unprecedented wave of exploration and economic prosperity by fully exploiting the potential and value of space. As we embark on this new activity, it is up to us, the inhabitants of planet Earth, to find the best alternatives to use resources outside our planet efficiently, responsibly and sustainably in order to make this promise a reality.
Asteroids are the 4.6-billion-year-old remnants of the formation of our solar system. They have a size of less than 10 meters at a diameter of about 530 km. Most have strange, non-spherical shapes and can have irregular, « sometimes quite unpredictable » rotations in orbit around the sun. Most asteroids orbit in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. This belt contains more than a million asteroids, but is so far away that it would be very difficult to use their resources with existing technology. Scot W Anderson, Korey Christensen & Julia LaManna (2018): Natural Resource Development in Space, Journal of Energy & Natural Resources Law According to most of the legal literature on this subject, space resources should be used in accordance with international law by analogy with the rules governing the use of marine resources. This would mean that space resources can be acquired and owned. However, celestial bodies and asteroids cannot do this.1 Despite recent advances in scientific understanding of asteroids, there is still considerable uncertainty about the number and nature of asteroids containing valuable resources. Based on what scientists have been able to determine, there appear to be three general classes of asteroids: types C, S and M.
Type C asteroids are probably composed of clay and silicate rocks, S-types are made of silicate rocks and nickel-iron, and types M consist of nickel-iron. Although different types of asteroids are made up of different building blocks, « some are rich in platinum group materials and other high-value metals. » For context, it has been estimated that the value of a single platinum-containing asteroid could range from $25 billion to $50 billion. The Luxembourg law on space mines – The law of 20. July 2017 on the exploration and use of space resources is innovative and unique. Studies have shown that the cost of space exploration can be significantly reduced if we rely on resources that are already in space, rather than launching everything we need from Earth. In fact, some studies suggest that the cost of missions to Mars could be reduced by a factor of 3 to 5. Space resources include oxygen bound to all minerals on the Moon, asteroids or Mars. Oxygen is the heaviest but still needed rocket fuel. Another vital resource is water, which can be found in the moon`s poles, in certain types of asteroids, and in various deposits on Mars.
To exploit these resources, we must have an excellent understanding of their geology and physics, which involves developing instruments and missions to explore and prospect.
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