Two Luxembourg-related start-ups were among the winners of Space Exploration Masters, an international competition aiming to identify and reward technology-transfer business successes and business innovation ideas for space exploration. The awards were handed out in Luxembourg on 16 November 2017 at NewSpace Europe, the first European conference fully devoted to commercial space activities.

Launched on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA), the Space Exploration Masters targeted participants from all over the world. A total of seven prizes were handed out in collaboration with international partners, including two awards supported by the Luxembourg government.


An innovative electric propulsion system for small satellites

Engineering start-up Hypernova Space Technologies was the winner of the “Luxembourg Prize – LuxIMPULSE Award”. Hypernova is developing a new class of affordable and safe propulsion systems for micro- and nanosatellites. For fuel, its innovative technology uses stable elements that are abundant in asteroids. The long-term ambition is to enable in-space services, deep-space exploration and the gathering of space resources.

“Hypernova’s advanced prototype of a plasma thruster struck a chord because it is a technology with a proven track record that neatly fits into Luxembourg’s dynamic space ecosystem, including our new initiative,” said Marc Serres, Director of Space Affairs at the Luxembourg Ministry of the Economy. Through the award, Hypernova receives support for a study to be carried out under the Luxembourg national space programme LuxIMPULSE that is managed by ESA with a maximum contract value of €400,000. The prize also includes hosting in one of Luxembourg’s incubator. Created by an international team, Hypernova is in the process of setting up operations in Luxembourg.


Solar energy for space and the Earth

Luxembourg-based Maana Electric develops scalable solar panel production facilities and aims to be the first utility company to service clients anywhere in the solar system. Using materials that can be found in desert sand and a completely emission-free process, Maana Elecric’s solar panels will be available at a price that is 60% below that of conventional solar farms. With its TerraBox, it aims to power 10 million homes on Earth by 2030. Its LunaBox is able to produce 1 megawatt of capacity per year on the Moon while also generating breathable oxygen.

Maana Electric was the winner of the “Luxembourg Prize – SpaceStarters Award” handed out by the Luxembourg government together with crowd-investing platform SpaceStarters. “Maana Electric convinced the jury with its phased approach to demonstrate its technology and business case on Earth before taking the innovative solar technology into space,” commented Marc Serres and Uli W. Fricke, CEO of FunderNation and operator of SpaceStarters. Maana Electric won €30,000 of services to prepare the launch of a crowd-investing campaign with SpaceStarters as well as a place in one of Luxembourg’s incubators.

Space Exploration Masters is aligned with the goals of ESA’s Space Exploration Strategy and looks for innovative and disruptive business cases that match at least one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals: zero hunger, good health and well-being, affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and communities, and so on. A new edition will be organised in 2018.

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