Luxembourgh Times

Luxembourg to fund NATO space project with millions

Space has been a new frontier for the Atlantic military alliance since 2019

Space debris orbiting the earth

Space debris orbiting the earth © Photo credit: Shutterstock

Luxembourg is set to pay €7 million into a NATO programme to protect satellites against harmful debris and spot hostile activity in space, an area where countries are deploying more military assets all the time.

"Space is becoming more crowded and competitive, satellites are vulnerable to interference. Some countries, including Russia and China, have developed and tested a wide range of counter-space technologies," NATO said on its website when it presented its strategy for space in 2019.

NATO added space as a fourth operational area to air, land and sea in 2019, also because of "an increasing amount of debris that can destroy current satellites, so it becomes essential to monitor to guarantee the overall security of military and civilian space assets," NATO says on its website. Cybersecurity is a fifth priority of the alliance.

Luxembourg would contribute €6.7 million to the development of the project, initiated by Nato's Situation Centre (SiTCEN), which was founded in 1968 as an information exchange. The amount would cover the costs for three years, the Luxembourg government said in a press release on Tuesday.

"The information gathered and delivered through satellites is critical for NATO activities, operations and missions, including collective defence, crisis response and counter-terrorism", NATO says on its website.

Luxembourg sees space as an opportunity to increase its investments in the military alliance, where it is a laggard with one of the lowest expenditures compared to countries' gross domestic product.

A military satellite project has caused controversy as it turned out to be almost twice as expensive as former Defence Minister Etienne Schneider had said.

Luxembourg is aiming to gain a seat at the table in the global space sector by financially supporting a raft of companies, and is now home to around 50 space firms. The most prominent is government-backed satellite operator SES, which has 70 satellites in space and €2 billion in sales.

It has also joined the US-led Artemis accords which are planning for manned moon missions at first, followed by missions to Mars.