The tiny European country of Luxembourg has just inked a deal with American company Deep Space Industries (DSI) to co-develop DSI's first spacecraft, the Prospector X. The country's government will be pouring money into the company's relevant research and development projects in this field in order to make the asteroid mining tech that, remarkably, is set to on water.
“If you throw water out the back of your vehicle quickly enough, you get thrust,” DSI CEO Daniel Faber said. “This is important because, once we’re out at asteroids, one of the things we’ll have in abundance is water. However, no thrusters can currently use water in its native form.”
Prospector-X will operate in low Earth orbit, testing navigation, propulsion, and avionics technologies for the next generation of spacecraft, which might actually scout out asteroids for valuable resources. It is hoped that Prospector X will pave the way for a fully-functioning nano-ship capable of surveying asteroids for mineral resources.
The main resources being hunted for include precious metals such as platinum or iridium, and water or ice (for use as rocket fuel or breathable air).
The country is also looking at crafting new laws that allow companies to keep the mineral resources they get from asteroid mining, thus sweetening the deal for space mining companies. The US has a headstart in this, having already passed the SPACE Act, which does exactly this.