Nonproliferation and the Space Station

In his testimony before the House Science Committee on Tuesday, NASA chief Mike Griffin said that the administration was asking Congress to amend the Iran Nonproliferation Act (P.L. 106-178) -- the law that prohibits the U.S. from procuring goods and services for the space station from Russia.

I got few e-mails from Probe readers about the INA issue. Over on Open CRS, I found a March 2005 Congressional Research Service report,
The Iran Nonproliferation Act and the International Space Station: Issues and Options by Sharon Squassoni and Marcia S. Smith. It's a good, short overview. (And thanks to my ol' buddy Bob Ambrogi over at LawSites for bloggin' about the new Open CRS site. I still think the CRS itself should make all their reports immediately available to the pubic on their own site. After all, tax dollars pay for this research.)

As the report summarizes, "The Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000 (INA) was enacted to help stop foreign transfers to Iran of weapons of mass destruction, missile technology, and advanced conventional weapons technology, particularly from Russia. Section 6 of the INA bans U.S. payments to Russia in connection with the International Space Station (ISS) unless the U.S. President determines that Russia is taking steps to prevent such proliferation. The ISS is currently under construction in orbit. According to current plans, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will become dependent on Russia for certain ISS crew-related services beginning in April 2006 for which NASA must pay. Thus, the INA could significantly affect U.S. utilization of ISS."

What a sad dilemma. Starting next year, the U.S. must be able to pay Russia to use the Soyuz spacecraft to fly astronauts to and from the space station. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) is right in applauding as "a worthy goal" the U.S.'s attempt, via the INA, "to make sure we used all of the leverage that we had to try to get [Russia] out of this nuclear power plant in Iran." But he noted the effort failed and "[t]here is no reason for us not to be realistic now."


Griffin's Vision Thing

The big guy, Mike Griffin, appeared as star witness yesterday before the House Science Committee at a hearing on the future of NASA. Here is a transcript of his testimony.

And Keith Cowing captured Mike Griffin's noteworthy
remarks and follow-up Q & A about his views on "commercialization vision for NASA," at last week's Space Transportation Association breakfast. Keith noted that compared with former NASA chiefs Dan Goldin (who "never took commercial forces seriously") and Sean O'Keefe (who "demonstarted no real interest in new commercialization efforts"), Mike "brings a real world savvy to the topic" and is a "breath of fresh air."


Barriers to Space Progress?

Hot off the space presses at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences' Reconsidering the Rules of Space project, here is the paper, United States Space Policy: Challenges and Opportunities.

The paper's authors -- Rice University's George Abbey (former JSC Director) and Neal Lane (former Clinton Science Advisor) -- say the four barriers to U.S. progress in space science and exploration that the U.S. must oversome are:
"the strict regulation of satellite exports as munitions under the State Department rules, a projected shortfall in the science and engineering workforce, unrealistic plans for NASA's future space missions that neglect the important role of science, and faltering international cooperation on existing and planned space missions."

I agree with some of the points raised, in particular with regard to the ever-problematic export controls issue. Meanwhile, Rand Simberg finds the paper unimpressive, and says why in his usual well-reasoned way.

Senate Space This Week

Last week the House passed the appropriations bill that includes $16.5 billion for NASA. This week, it was the Senate's turn. First, the commerce, justice, and science subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up its FY2006 appropriations bill, then the full committee unanimously approved it.

Meanwhile, Senate Commerce Committee passed S. 1281, a NASA authorization bill for fiscal years 2006 through 2010, introduced by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), chairman of the science and space subcommittee.

Over on Space Politics, Jeff Foust has been carefully recapping the action. Here's Jeff on appropriations and authorizations, along with his update today.


Space Lawyer Directory Update

It’s about time: I have been updating the Space Lawyer Directory on the Probe’s affiliate Web site, Spacelawstation. So far so good.

The directory is still the only one of its kind Internet. So if you are a U.S. space lawyer in private practice and don’t see your name listed, please
e-mail me and I will add you. (And if you include in your e-mail a really clever space lawyer joke that I use in a Friday Flybys post, I’ll send you a cool Spacelawstation tee shirt, too.)

Going forward, I will expand the directory to include space lawyers based outside the U.S. (In fact, some non-U.S. practitioners already appear.) So wherever you are in the galaxy, just send me your contact info along with your current law firm affiliation.

Also, a few select space law professors appear, and will continue to sneak into the directory. Just because.

(And by the way, no offense intended to any air lawyers whose listing I have removed. Originally the directory did inadvertently include some air lawyers based on their practice area description “aerospace law,” a somewhat ambiguous designation used by many firms as well as Martindale-Hubble which tends to refer to the practice of air law, not space law. But even though the directory now limits itself more strictly to the space side of aerospace law, don't worry, we still love air lawyers too.)


Security Space

The Probe specializes in commercial and civil space. But for you security space buffs, here's the new smokin' hot Space Security Index 2004 (released June 2005).

And Defense Tech says the
space race is going global. (via InstaPundit)


House Critiques NASA Artist

As the House continued debating the appropriations bill which contains NASA's budget (HR 2862), the legislators did manage to artfully dispatch a matter of major national and cultural concern: They approved Rep. Chris Chocola's (R-IN) amendment to "prohibit the use of funds for NASA to employ any individual under the title 'artist in residence.'"

NASA had in fact bestowed the honor in question on now 58-year old performance artist Laurie Anderson, along with a sweet $20,000 commission, a fact which did not escape the
attention of the Republican Study Committee.

No one proposed eliminating the entire
NASA Art Program. (Yet?) ("Established in 1962 by NASA Administrator James Webb, the NASA Art Program has documented America's major accomplishments in aeronautics and space. More than 200 artists have generously contributed their time and talent to record their impressions of the U.S. aerospace program in paintings, drawings and other media.") The Washington Post reported last year the program represented $50,000 of NASA's $15 billion budget.

But is Rep. Chocola just anti-art? Not necessarily. In fact, just last month the Congressman himself proudly announced
his district's winner of the 2005 Congressional High School Art Competition -- a student from John Glenn High School, who will receive a $500 U.S. savings bond and the honor of having her piece displayed in the corridor leading to the U.S. Capitol building for one year. (And as the Congressman explains on his Web site, the annual, nationwide art competition is sponsored by the Congressional Arts Caucus.)



They are "the new generation of deep-pockets space entrepreneurs" -- folks like Paul Allen, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Larry Page and John Carmack.

John Schwartz at The New York Times today takes a look at
Thrillionaires: The New Space Capitalists. (free reg. req'd)

And anytime any of you thrillionaires needs space law advice, folks at the Probe are standing by.

Testifying From Orbit

That's right, today's schedule for the House Committee on Science includes the hearing "Live from Space: The International Space Station" during which the space subcommittee will hear testimony from Astronaut John Phillips aboard ISS as he orbits the Earth at a speed of five miles a second. As NASA notes, this is "a first for the Congressional representatives, and for Phillips."


Friday Flybys (vol. 13)

(Flybys the 13th? Here we go.)

As expected, this afternoon Governor Jeb Bush announced his
Commission on the Future of Space and Aeronautics in Florida. (Florida Today)

The FAA has released its
Quarterly Launch Report - 2nd Quarter 2005. Topic: "Non-Federal U.S. Spaceport Infrastructure and Investment."

For you space patent types, an invitation from NASA:
Government-Owned Inventions Available for Licensing. (I like the sound of the magnetic circuit for Hall effect plasma accelerator, or the improved emitter conductivity layer for solar cells. But take your pick.) (From Glenn Research Center, via SpaceRef)

And here’s Leonard David on
Space Tourism: Marketing to the Masses.

I don't have details but here's a blurb on China signing Galileo agreements with the EU.

Joanne Field at American Express Insurance Services has a few things to say about
space travel insurance.

And NASA isn't the only space agency that takes heat. This week, MP's blasted the UK's space programme. (Remember the Beagle 2?)

By the way, did you hear about those space spy suits? No, not lawsuits. (Reuters via ABC News)

Have a great weekend.


CRS Space Programs Brief

This is the kind of thing that excites us here on the Probe. The Congressional Research Service has put out an updated (May 2005) version of its Issue Brief for Congress, U.S. Space Programs: Civilian, Military, and Commercial (pdf).

(SpaceRef has the text version, if you prefer.)

Thanks to Ms. Marcia S. Smith and her group. Our CRS dollars hard at work.


Declining U.S. Role in Launch Biz

Is there any hope for U.S. launch providers?

Futron considers this troubling question in its new white paper, The Declining U.S. Role in the Commercial Launch Industry (June 2005).

"Once one of the dominant players in the marketplace, the market share of U.S.-manufactured vehicles has declined because of the introduction of new vehicles and new competitors, such as Russia, which can offer launches at lower prices and/or with greater performance than their American counterparts. Moreover, with commercial launch demand, particularly for larger vehicles, forecast to be relatively flat for the foreseeable future, and with still more new vehicles entering the market, there is little evidence that U.S.-built vehicles can win back most of the market share they have lost in recent years."

Take a gander.


NASA & Congress Face to Face

Looks like NASA will be enjoying a bunch of face-time with, and attention from, the good folks in Congress this week. On the schedule: "a variety of topics." Here's a quick lineup of events, from Keith Cowing.


State Dept. Brokering Regs Session

This just in from Angeline and Howard at the Aerospace & Defense Industries Committee of the ABA Section of International Law:



Please mark your calendars for July 12, 2005 from 12:00 - 2:00 and plan to join us for a combined Working Group meeting of the ABA Section of International Law's Export Controls and Economic Sanctions Committee, the Aerospace and Defense Industries Committee and the International Procurement Committee. The Working Group meeting will address the Department of State's defense article brokering regulations and how the Department's recent pronouncements will have an effect on utilizing overseas agents, sales representatives, and distributors. This event will be held at the offices of Fulbright & Jaworski at 801 Pennsylvania Avenue. This Working Group will have a brown-bag lunch format, although light refreshments will be provided compliments of Fulbright & Jaworski. While full details as to the presenters and format will be forthcoming, the agenda will include a presentation on the applicable regulations, breakout discussions of the regulations as applied to various scenarios, and an opportunity for members of the Committees, and the bar as a whole, to engage in an open dialogue on the Department of State's present views on brokering. Call in details will also be provided. Presentations will begin at noon, so please plan on arriving early.

More information to come soon . . . .

We hope to see you there!

Angeline Chen & Howard Stanislawski, Co-Chairs


Friday Flybys (vol. 12 )

A mosh pit of items, as usual . . .

Spacehab issued a
press release yesterday announcing that Lloyds of London has agreed to drop its complaint against Spacehab and join with the company "in pursuit of its claims with NASA for reimbursement of loss for its Research Double Module in the STS-107 Space Shuttle Columbia accident."

* * *

Apollo astronaut Neil Armstrong may sue an Ohio barber who sold his hair for $3,000. (AP via MSNBC)

* * *

NASA Administrator Mike Griffin says the space agency has funding to implement Pres. Bush's vision for the moon and Mars. "You will find that NASA received as much in the last 16 years of its existence as in the first 16 . . . In my judgment, we can go to the moon. We can go to Mars. We can't do them quite as quickly as we did during Apollo, but we can do it."

* * *

The Probe says happy 30th anniversary to the
European Space Agency.

* * *

The Probe says happy 50th anniversary to Russia's
Baikonur Cosmodrome.

* * *

And finally, Sam Hughes presents his
Top Ten Ways to Destroy Earth (via Live Science, Space.com and wherever else. See also, Sam's archive). Yes, but are they legal?


Rohrabacher on Asteroid Agency (updated)

Wired News reports Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) of the U.S. House Committee on Science says he will push President Bush to take action on Rusty Schweickart's proposal to create a federal asteroid-response agency. The former Apollo astronaut talked about his idea at a recent International Space Development Conference (see Probe post).

(Apparently the Congressman didn't go for Rusty's other plan: to put a transponder on NEO 2004 MN4.)

As the article mentions, Rohrabacher has already introduced two asteroid-related House bills this session: The
Charles "Pete" Conrad Astronomy Awards Act, to set up an awards program for amateur astronomers who discover asteroids with near-Earth orbit trajectories, and the George E. Brown Jr. Near-Earth Object Survey Act, to require NASA to track near-Earth asteroids and comets of 100 meters or more in diameter. (NASA currently limits its catalog to objects of at least 1 kilometer in diameter.)

* * *
Update/Correction, 6/10/05: Good thing blog posts are not chisled in stone. Here's Jeff Foust covering the report that both Rohrabacher and Schweickart deny advocating the creation of an asteroid agency (and that Wired News has corrected its article). Thanks, Jeff.


Investigating Orbital

Paul J. McNulty, the U.S. attorney on a mission to crack down on federal procurement fraud is now looking at Orbital Sciences Corporation, executing search warrants at two of the space contractor's offices last week.

As government contracting attorneys know, McNulty announced the formation of the Procurement Fraud Working Group in February (the day Boeing CFO Michael M. Sears was sentenced to four months in prison for illegally recruiting an Air Force official, and as investigation of Boeing continued).

Orbital has released a statement saying "it is not aware that it has violated any federal contracting laws, policies or procedures" and is of course fully cooperating with the investigation. Stay tuned.

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