ispace develops small, lightweight landers and rovers that will be used to explore the surface of the Moon. SpaceX will be the launch provider for its maiden voyages to the Moon scheduled for 2020 and 2021. The Luxembourg office focuses on business development, R&D, payload development, engineering and integration. It will also be the centre for analysing data from the lunar missions. ispace collaborates with the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) to develop a miniaturised mass spectrometer that will explore elemental compositions of lunar ice and regolith. Luxembourg co-funds relevant activities through national R&D grants, research support and the programmes of the European Space Agency.
The Luxembourg government has stood by our side in what can sometimes be a very political environment.
“The support provided is certainly attractive,” says Mr Acierno, “but there are two other things that I think are even more important. Firstly, the legal framework for exploiting resources harvested in space – we will not claim such resources any time soon, but it shows the strong political support – and secondly, the fact that we are able to approach this business with a partner thanks to the relationships we have built up with the government. They have stood by our side in what can sometimes be a very political environment.”
ispace is currently setting up a “lunar yard” at its premises that will be used for perfecting the navigation and positioning of lunar vehicles. These facilities will also be open to other companies, Mr Acierno explains, adding: “We want to show the general public and the government that our presence in Luxembourg is a success story.”