Organisers of Luxembourg’s first space café on Tuesday were victims of their own success when 120 people curious about the space sector attended the event.
iSpace Europe managing director Kyle Acierno and Space Resources advisory board member Georges Schmit were forced to deliver their speeches from behind the bar area at Charlotte bar in rue des Bains.
“I was expecting 30 people, a nice chat, a beer then to go home. I guess this is serious,” Schmit joked at the start of the evening.
The former diplomat talked the audience through Luxembourg’s 30-year space history which began with the launch of the first SES satellite in 1988 through to the creation of the Space Resources initiative and legal framework over rights to resources mined in space.
The Luxembourg government’s current vision is “to contribute to the peaceful exploration and sustainable utilisation of space resources for the benefit of all humankind,” Schmit said. While satellites remain the “bread and butter”, the space sector as a whole is growing in Luxembourg, contributing to 1.3% of GDP, generated by around 30 companies and fewer than 1,000 employees, Schmit said.
Drivers and challenges
The economic benefits are among the main reasons Luxembourg is diversifying in this direction. While there are plenty of drivers, the financial, business, legal and technological challenges are still sizeable.
“There’s a shift and there’s more and more private money going in,” Schmit said, adding there was a trend for more investment in things like space investment funds. But the challenge remains of how space technology companies get their funding. Legal frameworks also need to be worked on, in order to create and develop a space economy, he said.
The cafés are to be held monthly in Luxembourg with a goal to “envangelise and make sure people understand correctly what we’re doing. It’s very important to learn, be open and look at opportunities” Schmit said, responding to a question from the audience about what Spaces Resources wants from the public.
Acierno also stressed the need for accessibility to the topic. In the 12 months since iSpace Europe established in Luxembourg, he said he had attended two space events in Luxembourg, each one costing over €500. “We want to create a platform to exchange knowledge for people in Luxembourg to attend. To create informal social events.… In order to be competitive we need the best people to do that. We need to help people learn what’s going on,” he said.