POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - ECONOMY

Space industry

Luxembourg to produce oxygen on the moon



Archive photo shows the cosmic-ray-hunting Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02), which was installed on the exterior of the International Space Station in 2011. European Space Agency/Flickr

Archive photo shows the cosmic-ray-hunting Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02), which was installed on the exterior of the International Space Station in 2011. European Space Agency/Flickr

Luxembourg is taking new steps to achieve its space exploration goals after teaming up with three other actors, including the French space agency (CNE) to develop technology for producing and using gases in space.

The commitment was formalised in a letter of intent signed between the Luxembourg Space Agency, French government agency Centre national d’Études spatiales, European Space Resource Innovation Centre and gas specialists Air Liquide on Tuesday.

During the coming months, the partners will discuss solutions for the challenges of space exploration, focusing on in situ production and storage of oxygen and hydrogen, production and storage of hydrogen energy in space and on the lunar surface, technologies for life support, and the refuelling of satellites and launchers in orbit.

“Space resources will be key for future space exploration. Being able to exploit them is a crucial stepping-stone to build a permanent human presence in space. It will also open up new avenues in terms of business models and in-space products and services,” Luxembourg Space Agency CEO Marc Serres said.

Luxembourg unveiled its SpacesResources.lu programme in 2016 aimed at developing a commercial space ecosystem in Luxembourg for the exploration and exploitation of space resources. In 2018, it launched the Luxembourg Space Agency and in 2020 announced the creation of the ESRIC innovation centre within the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology. The latter will by 2022 install a range of dedicated labs and testing facilities which, among other things, will include a dirty thermal vacuum chamber and demonstrators for processing moon rock or regolith to produce oxygen on the moon.