For now, space out and enjoy the summer (or whatever season it is where you logon from). Do a perfect backflip like Commander Eileen Collins. (She makes it look so easy.) Take a swim in this amazing ice lake found on Mars. Explore a large new world (but is it a planet?) discovered beyond Pluto. Try out for Apollo 13 director Ron Howard's new space-reality TV show. . . . That sort of thing.
Oh, and for your space law book shopping convenience, here's a list of links to some books (sold on Amazon) that contain the reference Outer Space Treaty.
So hitch your starwagon to Space Law Probe. (And whatever you do, don't go running off with any other space blawggers when I'm away.)
Return to RTF?
On the Newshour last night, NASA Watch's Keith Cowing (in his second Newshour appearance of the week) and NASA historian Prof. Alex Roland squared off on what to do about the shuttle program now. (Their discussion also included a few points about the international treaties involved in the space station effort.)
And Jeff Foust reports on ongoing negotiations in Congress on the shuttle retirement date in light of NASA's decision to ground the orbiters.
Jeff wonders if NASA's decision will "prompt more calls for an early retirement of the fleet, or be ammunition for those who believe there's no way the shuttle can be retired as early as 2010 and still get the ISS (mostly) assembled?"
And while we debate whether it's all worth the effort, here's a clip of Discovery's beautiful backflip before docking with the station. (Viewing this spectacular feat makes me wonder: How did keeping the darn foam up on the tank turn out to be the hard part?)
Meanwhile, with the shuttle stuck again in groundspace, heads up, everyone: The high-flying duo of Richard Branson and Burt Rutan announced the launch of their new spaceship company.
America, Russia and the ISS
"The U.S. 2000 law on non-proliferation of missile technologies regarding Iran prohibits NASA from paying Russia's Federal Space Agency or bartering ISS goods and services, until the U.S. administration persuades Congress that there are no leaks of missile technologies from Russia to Iran.(See also, Probe post on The Iran Nonproliferation Act issue.)
The Americans seem to realize that their shuttles are unreliable, yet they continue to stick with the ISS. Griffin and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sent a letter to U.S. lawmakers in the middle of July with a request to amend the law.
If the requested amendments are introduced, Russian-American ISS cooperation will continue to develop on a commercial basis. The Russian space industry will be relieved of the extreme financial burden associated with the ISS after the Columbia crash.
If lawmakers reject the request, Russia will have to revise its plans for manned missions in space. But in any event Russia and the U.S. are doomed to cooperation as the two leading space powers."
"Obviously we have more work to do."
The crew of Discovery may be safe (we hope), but the egos at NASA are down for the count. There was no nice way to put it, either. You didn't want to be standing in Shuttle Program Manager Bill Parsons' place when he had to make this announcement at a press briefing this afternoon (via SpaceRef):
"We had a debris event on the PAL ramp along the LOX field line - below the point where the LH2 ramp begins. Our expectation is that we would not have an unexpected debris event. The PAL ramp is one area we should have reviewed. We knew we would have to remove the PAL ramp. We did not have enough data to be safe and remove it. We had very few problems with it so we decided that it was safe to fly it as is. Clearly, with the event we had, we were wrong. We did not contact the orbiter at all. But it does give us pause to go back and look at what it is. Until it is closed we will not fly again. Might as well let that out now. Until we are ready we will not fly again. I do not know when that will be. This is a test flight. Obviously we have more work to do. This is a test flight. It did not perform as well as we would have liked it to. I cannot say what the impact is until we find out what happened. Obviously we cannot fly with PAL ramps coming off the way that this one did. We need to go off and fix it."
Japanese Space Policy Logic
So writes Kazuto Suzuki, author of Administrative Reforms and the Policy Logics of Japanese Space Policy (Space Policy, Feb. 2005)
Of course, if you have Japanese clients, you have to make sense of it all. (Thank goodness I don't.) Gokouun o inorimasu. (Good luck.)
G o d s p e e e e e e e e d
You go, girl.
(OK, so 36 years ago we first stepped foot on the Moon.
Today, we're just happy just to be heading back into LEO.)
Standby to Waive?
(One view about the difference between businesspeople and lawyers goes like this: For businesspeople, if on a project that consists of, say, 1000 items, 999 of the items work out perfectly, and one item goes wrong, the project is success. But for lawyers, that same outcome represents failure.)
Everyone knows risks have always been part of rocketry. Some folks are nervous about NASA's willingness to waive its rule that would have required all four sensors to be functioning at the rescheduled Discovery launch tomorrow. Tonight, countdown is underway even though the agency still is mystified by the sensor problem. It remains to be seen if the strange glitch recurs.
But many folks agree with James Oberg who says NASA is making the right decision. (And here is a dynamic chart of the things NASA did change on the orbiter since Challenger.)
In any case, the Probe says Godspeed to Commander Collins and her crew. (Of course, lousy weather cannot be waived.)
Buzz from the Moon Conference
And Jeff Foust has an article on NASA's implementation of the Vision for Space Exploration. "Just as important as the technological approach to returning humans to the Moon, though, is NASA’s realization, made clear at the conference, that the agency cannot return to the Moon without an unprecedented degree of commercialization."
Thanks, guys. Tough job but someone had to go to Vegas. (And, thankfully, no one was seen attempting to spend newly designed NASA coins at the blackjack tables.)
Go for golf
(Too bad I play tennis.)
U p d a t e:
(Speaking of women in space) I just saw in this week's issue of The Space Review Anthony Young contemplates the first woman on the moon ; and he says of space shuttle Discovery's Commander Eileen Collins, "If NASA was currently flying missions to the Moon, no doubt the agency would select Collins." (Yes, but does she play golf?)
Friday Flybys (vol. 15)
Meanwhile, here on the ground...
This afternoon the House "overwhelmingly" passed the NASA authorization bill (H.R. 3070). And here's the House Science Committee's release.
* * *
I've already started saving my spare change to invest in those gold and silver commemorative coins to be minted in 2008 under the NASA and JPL 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 68), introduced in January by Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) and 290 co-sponsors. The bill passed the House on July 12. (Read the bill for great descriptions of the shiny new money. And collectSPACE has a glittering article on the coins, which are to include actual gold, silver, copper and other metals from flown spacecraft.
* * *
If you can't get launch yourself into space, you can send your blog or blawg instead. MindComet's new, free service, BloginSpace.com will send blog content "into deep space via a powerful earth-based satellite broadcast." Thats right, Ted Murphy, President and CEO of MindComet wants bloggers to make contact with extraterrestrials. But are bloggers really the best envoys? (Sure I immediately registered the Probe. Typos and all.) Remember to heed the company (or perhaps, the company's intergalactic space lawyers): "We strongly urge our users to refrain from language or content designed to provoke our alien neighbors. We hope that our bloggers understand the importance of keeping our message positive." (We don't want E.T. to get the wrong impression of us.) (And no pirated Tom Cruise DVD's!)
* * *
Peter N. Spotts of the Christian Science Monitor writes about the Probe's favorite topic, Beyond NASA: The push to privatize spaceflight .
* * *
Friends of Futron reports for July. Cool beach reading.
* * *
Speaking of cool reading, Prof. Glenn Reynolds (our beloved Instapundit) mentions his "small contribution" to the summer's Chicago Journal of International Law (which, as I've reported here, includes a space law symposium that unfortunately does not appear on the Journal's Web site), but does he even offer up a snippet of his article? Noooo. (Come on Professor!)
* * *
That's all for now. Enjoy. And whatever you do, pay no attention to the five cosmic threats to life on earth.
Happy Evoloterra week, everyone.
Bottom line: "This time we stay." (On the moon, that is. Not in Vegas.)
And if you can't make the conference, at least read SFF's lunar declaration.
But whatever you do, don't forget: what happens on the moon stays on the moon . . .
Not for space patent lawyers only, Bob Ambrogi discovers where on the Web we can find flying machine patents and more wacky patents. (And yes, this is from last month's Law Technology News, I'm just catching up now . . . but don'tcha love summer?)
To Russia With Love
(Speaking of Cold War history, July 17th also marked the 60th anniversary of the first atomic explosion.) (link courtesy of Rand Simberg)
By the way, last week Russia announced approval of a 10-year space program budget of approximately $10.5 billion (which is of course less than NASA's annual budget.)
Fridays Flybys (vol. 14)
The launch scrubbed out, but the week went on. Here are some takeaways.
Former space scientist and recovering pro-space activist Jeffrey F. Bell rethinks space activism rooted in the 1970's and writes that doom and gloom won't sell space. (Although he admits he does not know what the "new message" should be.)
Over at The Space Review Chris Carberry has visions of the next president and his or her impact on space 2009.
More space shuttle launches, not fewer, will lower the risk, writes former chairman of the NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, Richard D. Blomberg. (N.Y. Times reg. req'd)
I missed this last week, but in addition to the astrologer who is suing NASA in the wake of the Deep Impact comet success, apparently the People of Ziquikcikty (also known as Comet Tempel-1) are seeking certification for their class action against Michael Griffin, George Bush, Karl Rove and others for damage to themselves and their home comet. (Note certification of service confirms delivery by "class V mindsend.") And we thought Earthlings were litigious. (Courtesy of George William Herbert, via Rand Simberg.)
This is a good week to pull out a few Glenn Reynolds columns on space, to keep perspective. For example, the famous space law book author and Instapundit himself offers some of his inimitable insight and perspective here and here.
AP is reporting it cost more than $73,000 to fly 44 members of Congress to Cape Canaveral for the scrubbed launch of space shuttle Discovery. (And what did the scrub itself cost? According to NASA, $616,000 in fuel and labor.)
The NASA hacker who was, admittedly, "smoking a lot of dope at the time," talks about computers systems and extra-terrestrial conspiracies.
Have a great, unscrubbed weekend. Don't worry too much about the engine cutoff (ECO) sensors located in bottom of the external tank. (Instead, here are 50 things to do with an IPOD.)
Coming soon: peace and propulsion.
Meanwhile, back at the House...
(Money for new fuel tank sensors, anyone?) (Never mind.)
By the way, Rep. Boehlert called the launch cancellation "a success story."
Life After Shuttles
If it goes as planned, in eight months, NASA will select the winning design of a six-astronaut Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) -- the spacecraft that is to take earthlings beyond low-Earth orbit after the space shuttle is retired in 2010, and then to the moon, perhaps as soon as 2015 . . . The final CEV contract could be worth billion of dollars.
(Any bets on who the winning CEV contractor will be?)
Got Space Property?
Here, Henry R. Hertzfeld and Frans G. von der Dunk present their views (not necessarily mine) on Bringing Space Law into the Commercial World: Property Rights Without Sovereignty, from this summer's volume of the Chicago International Law Review -- and no, the Journal did not put this on the Web, rather, I found the article on BlackEnterprise.com, of all places. And who knows how long it'll remain there.
(Why don't more law journals put their own current, full text stuff on the Internet? For free or for pay, either way. It's 2005 and still many law journal Web sites offer little substance, just subscription info along with tables of contents. Uncool.)
Countdown to RTF
Hurricane Dennis blowing through the Gulf of Mexico this weekend fortuitously did not affect launch plans. And as we count the days, minutes and microsecondss to liftoff, naturally an endless stream of commentary and information is being printed, broadcast and blogged. According to a June 24 e-mail from Mike Rein, chief of media services for the Kennedy Space Center, NASA closed media accreditation for the launch at approximately 2,650 folks. This includes representatives of the world's major news organizations as well as your common variety space bloggers. (Yes, the Probe got a press badge, too.)
Of course, you don't have to be standing in the KSC press site to have an opinionn, or a view. A new USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll taken a few weeks ago found that 40 percent of poll responders rated NASA's job performance "poor" or "only fair" while 53 percent rated it "excellent" or "good." At the same time, nearly three-quarters of those surveyed said the shuttle program should continue; while only 21 percent said the shuttle program should end.
Meanwhile, many would agree with Craig Covault at Aviation Week & Space Technology who writes that the shuttle's safe return is key to the space programs future (and you may have seen this article republished on Space.com).
Space Law Symposium
Rights to Luna
Next Space Tourist Signs Contract
I don't have a copy of the contract, (the Probe salutes the space lawyers who negotiated it,) but the much talked about trip, (first announced last March by deal broker/space travel organizer Space Adventures), has been reported to be worth about $20 million.
If all goes as planned, Olsen of course, will be the third commercial rocket guy to travel to the ISS, after private space pioneers Dennis Tito (2001) and Mark Shuttleworth (2002).
Deep Impact Lawsuit
And here's the space law angle (-- didn't think there'd be one, didja? Neither did I.): Reuters reports a Russian astrologist is suing NASA for damages of $300 million for altering her horoscope when it crashed the Deep Impact spacecraft into the Tempel 1 comet.
And no comment from the Probe on that. (Technically, I'm off today.)
Happy Independence Day, America.
Space Lawyers at Billion Dollar Firms
(For Probe readers unfamiliar with this notorious nugget of legal media, each year The American Lawyer, my old stompin' ground, publishes a list of the 100 highest-grossing law firms. And yes, this list was a Steven Brill innovation, before he created Court TV, and all that other stuff.)
What's new in the world of law firm global domination? This year, five megafirms weighed in with more than a billion dollars in gross revenues (representing FY2004 grosses): Skadden, Baker & McKenzie, Latham & Watkins, Jones Day and Sidley Austin.
So congratulations to all space lawyers who are partners or soon-to-be partners at old as well as newly minted "Billion-Dollar Club" law firms. A rarefied bunch indeed.