Planetary Resources mines Luxembourg for $28M in asteroid-hunting funds

The aspiring asteroid miners at Planetary Resources have struck pay dirt in Luxembourg, the tiny (but wealthy) European country positioning itself as an ally to commercial space. The country is directly investing €12 million, with another €13 million coming from public investment bank SNCI.

This investment doesn’t come out of the blue: the country and company signed an agreement in June soft-announcing a possible investment, though with scale and terms to be announced. Today it’s official:

“The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg becoming a shareholder in Planetary Resources seals our partnership and lays the ground of the principles of our cooperation in the years to come,” said the country’s Deputy Prime Minister, Étienne Schneider, in a press release (PDF).

This isn’t an investment in a specific site or technology, but in the company itself; forested, mountainous and about the size of Rhode Island, Luxembourg isn’t exactly suited for launches and large-scale research. (I recommend visiting, though; it’s beautiful.)

Planetary Resources will be using the €25 million (about US$27.7 million) in pursuit of its planned 2020 launch of an asteroid prospecting system. The cash will join some $21 million (or what’s left of it) raised in May.

Luxembourg is keeping its options open, though: The officials there also have an agreement with Deep Space Industries, a competitor — or potential one, anyway, if either gets off the ground — but the details of the funding, if any, haven’t emerged just yet.

You can keep close track of Luxembourg’s space partnerships, if you’re that interested, over at the country’s Space resources site.