Meet Étienne Schneider – Deputy Prime Minister and space miner
L to R – Dr Matthew Jones Lecturer in Political Science, John McLean, Programme Leader for the Politics and International Relations degree programme, Mr Jean Olinger, Luxembourg Ambassador to the UK, Deputy Prime Minster Etienne Schneider, and students
Asteroids could be a source of high-value materials says Deputy Prime Minister of Luxembourg and former Greenwich Erasmus student, Étienne Schneider.
Recently, Étienne Schneider, alumnus and Deputy Prime Minister of Luxembourg, gave a lecture at the Greenwich campus to Politics and International Relations students.
Accompanied by Mr Jean Olinger, his country’s Ambassador to the UK, he outlined how (with a population of 660,000, where 48% are foreigners), his country is pioneering projects to land, return materials and mine from asteroids.
Étienne first came to the university’s predecessor, Thames Polytechnics, in the early 1990s as part of an Erasmus programme through the Catholic Institute of Higher Commercial Studies (ICHEC) in Brussels. Accompanying him was his friend Claude Strasser, now managing director of Post – Luxembourg’s largest provider of postal and telecommunications services.
Together, they rented a house in Plumstead, immersing themselves in London life and enjoying the community spirit. Studying at Greenwich was different to Brussels – Étienne focussed on the practical side of his course, working autonomously and travelling across the UK to research his projects. On campus, he appreciated the support given by students and from academics.
Étienne graduated in 1995 with a degree in Business and Finance and became a scientific assistant at the European Parliament. He went on to take a series of high profile roles, becoming Minister of the Economy and Foreign Trade in 2012. In 2013, he became Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Economy, Defence, and Interior Security.
During his lecture at Greenwich, Étienne described how Luxembourg passed a space mining law last year, making them the first country in Europe to offer a legal framework to ensure that private operators could be confident about their rights regarding any resources they extract in space. Luxembourg and the USA are the only countries to have developed a national space law.
He said his country was funding projects to bring minerals back from space and although this might be at least 15 years off, new technologies are creating markets that space mining could supply.
He said private companies could make it more economically feasible to carry materials to refuel or repair satellites or supply raw materials to the 3D printers now being tested on the International Space Station.
Each kilogram of mass from Earth costs between €10,000 and €15,000 to lift to orbit, but these companies could cut these costs by recycling the debris of old satellites and rocket parts floating in space.
Luxembourg has already attracted significant interest from pioneers in the space-mining field in the USA and has signed agreements with other global research and development projects.
Although a small nation, Étienne is confident that Luxembourg has a prominent position in space activity and will become the hub for European space mining companies.
To find out more: http://www.spaceresources.public.lu/en.html