In order to further study the challenges and potential developments of resource utilisation technologies including gas production and storage in space, Air Liquide along with CNES (the French National Centre for Space Studies), the Luxembourg Space Agency (LSA), and the European Space Resources Innovation Centre (ESRIC) have signed a joint Letter of Intent (LOI).

The partnership comes after a CNES-LSA workshop in September 2020 that identified joint initiatives to address the challenges and opportunities arising out of developments in space exploration.

The expertise of all companies involved resulted in discussions pertaining to a shared interest in collaborating in areas such as in-situ production and storage of oxygen and hydrogen, production and storage of hydrogen energy in space and on the lunar surface, technologies for life support, and the refuelling of satellites and launchers in orbit.

Speaking about the initiative, Mathias Link, ad-interim Director of ESRIC, said, “ESRIC is a young initiative like no other in Europe, powered by LSA and the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), with ESA as a strategic partner.”

“We believe this new collaboration between France and Luxembourg will be instrumental in developing our centre and we’re delighted to be working with players like CNES and Air Liquide.”

Benoît Hilbert, General Manager, Air Liquide Advanced Technologies, mirrored the views of Link, mentioning that Air Liquide intends to contribute, along with its partners to the emergence of a virtuous loop by creating synergies between their terrestrial and space technologies with the aim of their mutual improvement.

He added, “We are pleased to bring our expertise for a more sustainable development of space

Part of the discussions between the four companies involves forming joint teams in order to develop projects aimed at developing technologies that will make long-term space exploration far more viable, including the in-situ production and utilisation of gases.

Commenting on how these discussions will contribute to future space exploration, Marc Serres, CEO, LSA, said, “Space resources will be key for future space exploration.”

“Being able to exploit them is a crucial steppingstone to build a permanent human presence in space.”

This opportunity for further utilisation of space resources and exploration reflected the framework agreement signed between CNES and Luxembourg in 2009 that identified a range of areas for cooperation including remote sensing and satellite technology development.