I first traveled to Luxembourg in the winter of 2014 as a student at the International Space University. As expected, it was a gloomy, rainy ride through the countryside.
After driving for a few hours, through the fog appeared the giant satellite dishes that surround SES Headquarters at the Beztdorf Castle. That day, I was introduced to the small country of Luxembourg and how it rose from the ashes of the steel market collapse with a focus to diversify its economy and create one of the largest telecommunication networks off Earth.
In the 1980s, the Luxembourg Government made a bet that 30 years in the future, satellite telecommunications would be an extremely profitable venture and decided to support in SES. They were correct, and now SES has annual revenues of nearly €2 billion, of which the Government earns a very healthy dividend.
Combined with the private sector, the Luxembourg space industry generates 2% of GDP, which could move up to 5% in the future. Once again, forward thinking leaders in Luxembourg are observing global technology trends and have determined that, in another 30 years from now, companies focused on utilizing the resources in space are ventures worth investing in. In order to attract these companies to Luxembourg and create a center for space resource activities, the Government announced the Space Resources Initiative, which established a progressive legal framework and pledged €200m to fund companies in the sector.
A growing community
The initiative caught the attention and interest of ispace, where at the time I was serving as the global business development manager. After multiple trips to Luxembourg to better understand the country and the initiative, we opened ispace Europe in March of 2017.
The Space Resources Initiative has garnered global attention. At space and investment conferences worldwide Luxembourg is now synonymous with space resources. The Government’s willingness to focus on innovative ideas and engage with ‘New Space’ players is admired by countries large and small. To further establish the country as a private space industry hub, two conference have appeared in Luxembourg, the Space Forum and the NewSpace conference.
Both have created important opportunities for discussion, networking, or displaying products and services. Unfortunately, these conferences are out of reach for many people in Luxembourg. Tickets prices are in the hundreds of euros, they are held during working hours, and both are somewhat formal affairs which may intimidate people from outside the industry.
For many, the space sector is perceived as ‘out of reach,’ ‘too difficult’ or ‘too far in the future’ to get involved. This myth is something that ispace Europe is aiming to refute by hosting Space Café Luxembourg. This networking and educational event organized monthly aims to provide an accessible forum for conversation about the amazing projects going on in space policy, engineering, science and commercialization.
We hope to show that space, in fact, is similar to other growing sectors and demands motivated minds, creative capital, and government support. As companies in Luxembourg continue to grow, it is important that the public have a forum to better understand what is happening in the country, engage with the community, share their views and most importantly, get involved.
The companies, organizations, and research centers coming to Luxembourg will create hundreds, if not thousands, of well-paying jobs. There will be high demand not just for engineers, but for specialists in finance, communications, marketing, and business development, to name a few.
Politicians from almost every political party in Luxembourg have a vision to make Luxembourg a leading player in space, and to realize that vision, people living and working in Luxembourg will need to be involved. It is our hope that Space Café Luxembourg will provide a venue to learn more about how you can contribute.
Attend the next space café
The second space café will be held at Charlotte Luxembourg at 17b Rue des Bains L-1212 Luxembourg on 25 April, 2018. Speakers include Gary Martin, senior advisor, Ministry of the Economy, Former NASA Director of Partnerships, and Andy Bowyer, co-founder and director of Kleos Space. More information and tickets can be found here.