Get your space boots ready, because Luxembourg is planning on jumping into the apparent gold rush of the 21st century: asteroid mining. With the help of Google founder Larry Page, the small European country is hoping to harvest precious minerals and metals from the rocks zooming around in space.
The Luxembourg government will work alongside two U.S. companies, according to the Luxemburger Wort newspaper, in what it hopes will be a coup in space resources acquisition. If the country can begin mining in space before anyone else, they expect to become major players in the industry going forward.
Luxembourg isn’t the first country to think of profiting off of the spoils of the universe. United States President Barack Obama signed a bill in November establishing that companies that extract metals and minerals or water from space are legally entitled to keep them. This could do more than just bring home more platinum for fancy rings — or electronics, if you’re so inclined. Giving a tangible financial incentive for private companies to mine in space increases competition and, ultimately, decreases the cost of space travel.
The cash that can be made off of minerals in space isn’t chump change, even if it is expensive to get. One thousand cubic centimeters of platinum is worth close to $1 million, and at least one asteroid that is known to man — called 2011 UW-158 — is said to have as much as $300 billion to $5.4 trillion of platinum and other precious resources inside.
The United States government, too, has shown interest in mining asteroids, though it’s not certain that it is looking to profit from it. NASA wants to corral an asteroid and bring it into the orbit of the moon, where astronauts will be able to take samples and potentially develop space structures and rocket fuel.