Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Luxembourg: Law on Use of Resources in Space Adopted

(Aug. 22, 2017) The Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies adopted a law on the exploration of space and the use of space resources on July 13, 2017; the Grand Duke signed the law on July 20, 2017. (Loi du 20 juillet 2017 sur l’exploration et l’utilisation des ressources de l’espace [Law of 20 July 2017 on the Exploration and Use of Space Resources], JOURNAL OFFICIEL DU GRAND-DUCHÉ DE LUXEMBOURG [OFFICIAL GAZETTE OF THE GRAND DUCHY OF LUXEMBOURG], No. 674 (July 28, 2017), LEGILUX; Draft Law on the Exploration and Use of Space Resources, SPACERESOURCES.LU (July 13, 2017).) This recent development makes Luxembourg the first European country to adopt a legal framework for private companies to extract resources from space.  (Projet de loi sur l’exploration et l’utilisation des ressources de l’espace – Rapport de la commission de l’économie [Bill on the Exploration and Use of Space Resources – Report of the Committee for Economy], Chamber of Deputies website (July 6, 2017), at 2.)

The first article of the Law on the Exploration and Use of Space Resources states that “space resources are capable of being appropriated,” thus giving private companies ownership of space resources that they extract. (Loi, art. 1.) Under this Law, Luxembourger corporations or European companies that have their registered office in Luxembourg may extract space resources for commercial use after obtaining approval from the Government of Luxembourg. (Id. arts. 2-4.) Anyone who explores and uses space resources without government authorization is subject to between eight days and five years of imprisonment and/or a fine of €5,000 to €1,250,000 (about US$5,900-US$1,480,000). (Id. art. 18.)

The Government of Luxembourg will evaluate a company’s application in light of a number of criteria. Upon receiving the application, the ministers in charge of the economy and space activities will review it to make sure that the company has:

(1) its central administrative body and its registered office in Luxembourg,

(2) the financial, technical, and legal means planned out and implemented in order to explore and use space resources, and

(3) a reliable internal governance scheme. (Id. art. 7.)

In this process, the company must disclose the identities of its largest shareholders or associates who have the power to influence the company, so that the ministers in charge may evaluate their reputation, knowledge, skills, financial soundness, and risk or history of money laundering or terrorist financing. (Id. art. 8.)  The reputation, knowledge, skills, experience, and conduct of the members of the company’s management body are also taken into account. (Id. art. 9.)  Moreover, the ministers will verify that the annual accounts of the company are audited by one or more experienced and approved company auditors (id. art. 11) and that the company has submitted a risk assessment of the space mission with the proof of financial means to cover  any risks. (Id. art. 10.)

Once a company has been granted approval to conduct exploration and use of space resources, the authorization is and non-assignable. (Id. art. 5.) Therefore, another party cannot carry out an exploration mission through or for the authorized company. (Id. art. 2.)

Prepared by SooYun Cho, Law Library intern, under the supervision of Nicolas Boring, Foreign Law Specialist.