Friday Flybys (vol. 10)
First, delay news (no, not Tom): As NASA announced last night, launch of shuttle Discovery is now officially pushed off to July. The new launch window opens from July 12 through 31. NASA will hold a press conference this morning. (Meanwhile, don't take off your "return to flight" wristbands just yet.)
Burt Rutan's testimony before Congress last week, has stirred the space tourism aka "private spaceflight" pot. Here's Jeff Foust's take on Two scenarios and two concerns for personal spaceflight.
Is there trouble in Japan Space? Reuters reports JAXA may be going belly up. Uh-oh. (As China rises...)
As the Probe reported, collectSpace continues to follow the saga of Max Ary. And the latest for you space crime aficionados: Ary, the former president and CEO of the illustrious Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center entered a plea of not guilty yesterday in connection with his 11-count federal indictment for fraud, theft and transportation of stolen space artifacts from the museum.
Speaking of space crime, there is no law against imbibing in orbit per se, but beware of operating a space station under the influence of alcohol. What do space lawyers say -- should the ISS crew be allowed to sip wine in space? Nostrovia!
And speaking of toasting, as we celebrate 15th anniversary of Hubble, here are the hottest new images.
Also to mark Hubble's 15-year milestone, the European Space Agency has released an 83-minute DVD documentary film, entitled a Hubble -- 15 Years of Discovery, which you can get free of charge by sending an e-mail to United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speaking of films -- although not quite as lofty as a Hubble documentary -- now playing at a theatre near you, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. (via Cosmic Log)
Have a galactic weekend.
Hearing on NASA earth science
Name That Launch Company
Space Lawyer Makes Pop Music
Compare: Gunnar K. A. Njålsson, the space law and policy expert of the University of Lapland in Finland and founder of Spacepol. And Gunnar K. A. Njålsson, the popular, Euro award-nominee music composer.
Hey. If Gunner can have the best of both worlds -- space lawyering, and in his spare terrestrial time, making a hit album -- you can do your thing too.
Space Law Cases Roundup
(And if you're looking for a particular space law case which you don't see posted yet, send me a note and I'll try to get it for you.)
Hill Hearings on Space
Over at the House Committee on Science, the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics is holding a hearing on "Future Market for Commercial Space," 9:30a.m. – 12:00p.m.
Witnesses on the schedule: Burt Rutan (Scaled Composites, LLC), Will Whitehorn (Virgin Galactic), Elon Musk (Space Exploration Technologies), John Vinter (International Space Brokers Group), Dr. Molly Macauley (Resources for the Future) and Wolfgang Demisch (Demisch Associates, LLC). (And yes, there will be a Webcast.)
At the same time, on the Senate side, the Senate Commerce Committee's Science and Space Subcommittee holds a hearing on International Space Station research.
Space Debris in Darmstadt
It's a mess up there. Aside from pieces of satellites, rocket bodies fragments and other clutter currently tracked, many more orbiting objects are smaller than 10 cm and cannot be tracked.
What to do about all this space junk? There is no quick cleanup, but there are conferences. This week, the Fourth European Conference on Space Debris, takes place in Darmstadt, Germany, April 18 - 20. The gathering is organized by ESA, and a crew of co-sponsors, including ASI, BNSC, CNES, DLR, COSPAR, IAA.
And if you can't get to Darmstadt, check out ESA's Focus On Space Debris, Part 1 and Part 2.
And remember: Don't litter.
Curator Indicted for Stealing Space Stuff
But now, the U.S. Department of Justice has indicted the former director of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center for stealing and selling to collectors artifacts from the space flight museum.
The shame of it all. A flown Apollo 12 water shut-off valve. An in-flight crew shirt. A nose cone. A flown Apollo 13 bus bar battery cable . A rotation controller. A purge valve for a spacesuit. These are some of the items federal prosecutors allege Ary ripped off from the Cosmosphere.
Alas, for crossing over to the dark side, if indeed he is found guilty, Ary faces up to five years in prison and $250,000 fines on each count of wire and mail fraud, as well as up to 10 years $250,000 fines on each count of theft and transportation of stolen properties.
Reports of missing artifacts at the Cosmosphere first surfaced in 2003.
Meanwhile, on collectSpace, where one editor has already admitted to innocently purchasing a "stolen" artifact from Ary, and later returning it, space collectors and enthusiasts ponder the sad saga.
Here is Griffin's prepared statement at today's hearings.
And if you're just getting to know the guy, you might want to check out the profile posted by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, where Dr. Griffin heads the space department. Impressive.
Smart money says he'll be at Sean O'Keefe's old desk by Monday morning.
Standards in space communications
What exactly is the CCSDS? From its home page: "Founded in 1982 by the most influential space agencies in the world, the CCSDS originated as a multi-national forum for the discussion of common space communications issues. Today, leading space communications experts from 28 nations meet regularly to develop the most well-engineered space data handling standards in the world. The goal? To enhance governmental and commercial interoperability and cross-support, while also reducing risk, development time and project costs. More than 300 space missions have chosen to fly with CCSDS-developed standards and the number continues to grow."
Ah, standards. Some things lawyers and engineers can agree on.
Or if you prefer, some highlights, from Jeff Foust.
Much more from Rep. Calvert to come.
Brief History of Satellite Industry
ABA International Law Spring Gathering
Here's the meeting agenda and registration information.
And during the festivities, for those who find themselves at the Fairmont (a lovely hotel) and actually awake on Thursday, April 14 at 7:30 AM, the Section's Aerospace and Industries Committee will be holding a breakfast meeting.
COPUOS Legal Subcommittee Meeting
Here is the provisional agenda for the session. And here's a good overview of the issues being addressed, from SpaceRef.
And in case you missed it, you can review the Report of the Legal Subcommittee on the work of its forty-third session, held in Vienna last April.
And I'm sure I've posted this link before but here's an Index of Online Reports of the Legal Subcommittee.
(Here on the Probe, we just love this stuff...)
A Bill to Reward Asteroid Hunters
Congress is now moving on Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's (R-CA) House Resolution 1023 (HR 1023) -- the Charles `Pete' Conrad Astronomy Awards Act -- a bill that would reward amateur astronomers who discover and track near-Earth asteroids.
To be eligible for cash awards under the bill, an amateur astronomer must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident at the time of the discovery or contribution. Awards would be set up by the NASA Administrator based on the recommendations of the Minor Planet Center of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.
The bill, now moving forward, passed the science committee of the House on March 17.
And yes, the bill is named for Pete Conrad, who, as we know, was the third person to walk on the Moon. He survived space but died in motorcycle wreck in 1999 in Ojai, California. (And it is said that Ojai is a Native American word for . . . moon.)