More from FAA/AST Space

Quick update from day 2 of the AST shindig; interesting morning and there's still one more session I will catch before grabbing a taxi to Union Station for a choo-choo back to NYC... (Shame on me, came all the way to the nation's capitol for FAA's gathering on rocket business and I didn't fly!?) I see from his blogging that Clark was here yesterday, although I have not been lucky enough to catch up with him. (He's probably avoiding me because I would steal his laptop.)

Today they let the lawyers out. First, Shana Dale, Esq., NASA's second in command gave this morning's keynote. She spoke of COTS and the ways it differs from typical NASA procurement (so far COTS was the hands-down star of this conference) and echoed some things Mike Griffin has been saying about hope for the success of commercial space transportation. Good to see her here.

After a panel on NEPA (due respect to everyone working hard at compliance here, this is not everyone's all-time favorite topic), hot-dog lawyer Tim Hughes, chief counsel of SpaceX spoke about what he is calling a possible "perfect storm" that seems to be underway for commercial space. Tim points to the VSE, DOD's "operationally responsive space" line item, congressional and legislative developments on the personal spaceflight front which in turn have gone a long way to peak interest, and of course, COTS, which he called "a new world for NASA". It is clear, the industry is gaining ground and big things are brewing.

With regard to the FAA proposed human space flight requirements, Tim mentioned that SpaceX will be submitting comments (due this month), meanwhile, he commends the regulators for their approach on this, which he views as consistent with the statute in putting a premium on safety while allowing risk. I agree. He concluded that the pieces are in place for "a Renasissance in space." (See? Who says lawyers are negative thinkers?)

(As to an update on today's scrubbed Falcon 1 launch, Tim had no information other than what has been reported, but he said "Elon is very candid" even "sometimes against the advice of counsel" and would let everyone know what's going on.)

More lawyers to talk after lunch. I'll try an update later, if not tomorrow.

I also ran upstairs for a few interesting sessions at the concurrently (and very inconveniently) scheduled Remote Sensing Industry conference (dueling conferences, no laptop, bad planning Jess) and should say a few things about that in another post.

(By the way, Clark, just kidding about stealing your laptop. But if you are here, listen, do you have a cell phone I can borrow? I forgot my recharger...)

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