Text by STEPHEN EVANS
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
Asteroid mining? From Luxembourg? That the grand duchy can be a world leader probing the feasibility of space mining demonstrates the breadth of related knowledge in this country. About 30 companies work in Luxembourg’s space sector, employing around 700 people, with turnover at an estimated €2bn. Communications satellite owner and operator SES dominates, but here is a look at some of the smaller outfits here in Luxembourg that are making waves in the global space race.
t’s hard to imagine a space sector in this country without SES, a global leader in its field. It took a leap of imagination for the government to create the firm in 1985, with the first satellite being launched to the country’s geostationary orbit slot in 1988. The timing was perfect. The fall of the Berlin Wall meant western German broadcasters needed a fast way to connect to eastern households. Sky UK also seized the opportunity to launch subscription TV. Growth and acquisitions resulted in the SES
becoming the world’s largest firm in its market by 2001, and it remains a key player to this day. Local high tech businesses benefited, supplying SES’s increasingly extensive and complex installations in and around the Château de Betzdorf. This organic growth was sufficient to inspire the country to become a full member of the European Space Agency in 2005. This gave local firms full access to pan-European programmes, and added credibility for global projects.