Luxembourg has just announced plans to start mining asteroids

The tiny European nation aim to lead the world in mining precious minerals millions of miles from earth

Luxembourg has just announced plans to start mining asteroids

Luxembourg is to support mining asteroids Image: Wiki Commons

In a move that seems more science fiction that business, Luxembourg has announced plans to support an asteroid mining programme.

The tiny European nation has announced they will develop a legal and regulatory framework for the industry, as well as initiating support for R&D in companies looking to undertake the operation, and may even invest in some of those companies.

The country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Etienne Schneider announced the plans on Wednesday, with the aim to focus on mining minerals such as gold and platinum, along with others rarely found on earth, but plentiful on near earth objects (NEOs).

NEOS are found beyond the moon but closer than Mars, and within reach of unmanned spacecraft.

Luxembourg Wort report that Minister Schneider has been secretly working on the plan since a 2013 visit to NASA’s research centre, with his focus on getting the main parties involved to set up the operation in the European state.

Experts estimate that a cubic metre of asteroid can yield minerals worth $1,000bn.

Jean-Jacques Dordain, the former head of the European Space Agency who will work as an adviser on the project, told the Financial Times that he he believes “there is great scientific and economic vision in Luxembourg’s vision.”

While it may appear a far fetched mission, Dordain says the technology needed is already available.

“We know how to get to asteroids, how to drill into them and how to get samples back to Earth.”

"Things are moving in the United States and it was high time there was an initiative in Europe, and I am glad the first initiative is coming from Luxembourg," he said.

"It will give no excuse for European investors to go to California," Mr Doradain added.

In 2015 the United States passed the SPACE Act, which aims to encourage companies to enter the space mining industry. The legislation ensured that any American citizen who does collect meteors in space would remain owner of the materials when they are brought back to earth.

CNBC report that the industry is already attracting investment of $2bn per year,.