Luxembourg is positioning itself to be the European centre of space business.
The space sector in Luxembourg has seen a huge amount of development in recent years. Currently there are 50 companies and research labs in the Luxembourg ecosystem, including a growing number of firms that provide solutions for the commercial exploration and utilisation of space.
Luxembourg is well positioned to rocket in the space’s industry. There are a lot of innovations from Grand Duchy companies such as iSpace, Bradford or Dapper whose main strength is that they complete each other, but also institutions like the Luxembourg Space Agency, whose aim is to promote the commercial space sector in Luxembourg by providing support to the space industry, fostering new and existing businesses, developing human resources, offering access to financial solutions and supporting academic learning and research.
Moreover, the government of Luxembourg encourages development through funding and legal reforms, for example in 2017, when it became the first country in Europe to adopt a regulatory framework for the space mining industry.
One of the leading actors is SES, a Luxembourg satellite and terrestrial telecommunications network provider supplying video and data connectivity worldwide to broadcasters, content and internet service providers, mobile and fixed network operators, governments and institutions.
The company achieved a lot these last few years, in 2017 it ushered in a new chapter in space exploration, becoming the first company to launch a satellite on a SpaceX flight.
More recently, SES announced it had signed with Microsoft to become its medium earth orbit Azure Orbital which not only allows SES to advance its cloud-first strategy but will also see the two giants invest in ground stations.
The contract is an extension of the partnership which sees these companies cooperating ”to produce scalable, cost-effective terminals capable of providing government, military, and commercial access to the existing O3b constellation and the ground-breaking O3b mPOWER system [a satellite-based comms system] set to launch in 2021”.
Kevin O’Connell, director of the office of space commerce at the US Department of Commerce who was last week visiting the Grand Duchy believes Luxembourg is ahead of its time: "We will heavily leverage commercial capabilities in order to improve sensing of space, do analytics on space debris, and ultimately create information for space operators that allows them to stay safe relative to their own positions or relative to how they cooperate with other space operators. We see Luxembourg already paying attention to this."