Satellite Investment at Jones Day

From my inbox, this sounds cool. (Jones Day, of course, is one of the top law firms on the planet. So save the date and come to NYC in November.)


News Release

(Los Angeles, CA) -- Leading industry conference organizer Hannover Fairs USA, Inc. today announced the launch of its inaugural ISCe Satellite Investment Symposium (ISIS) NYC '06, which will take place November 28, 2006, at co-host Jones Day's law office in mid-town Manhattan, New York City.

ISCe Satellite Investment Symposium NYC '06 will bring together high-profile executives in the satellite television (DBS), satellite radio (DARS), mobile satellite (MSS), fixed satellite services (FSS), IPTV, Broadcasters, Digital TV/SyndEx and Mobile Video sectors of the satellite industry with leading New York financiers and members of the Wall Street community.

"Since the cancellation of the SkyFORUM event two years ago, the satellite industry has not had a true satellite finance event in New York City. I am pleased to announce the launch of this new executive-level, one-day program, which will focus on the financial foundations of the multi-billion dollar satellite communications marketplace," said Art Paredes, president & CEO of Hannover Fairs USA, Inc.

Preeminent partners for the ISCe Satellite Investment Symposium NYC '06 include co-host Jones Day, one of the largest international law firms, The Carmel Group, NSR, the Society of Satellite Professionals International (SSPI) and the Satellite Industry Association (SIA). In addition to the ISIS NYC '06 partners, Hannover Fairs USA is pleased to announce key media partners, including TVNewsday and SatNews Publishing.

ISIS NYC '06 will feature three panel sessions comprised of the top satellite and broadcasting executives representing key industry sectors, three exclusive CEO interviews and a high-profile keynote luncheon speaker.

"Given the increasing role of private equity players in the commercial satellite communications sector, the financial aspects of this great industry have taken front and center stage over the last few years," said David Bross, chairman of ISCe Satellite Investment Symposium NYC '06 and the ISCe Conference & Expo. "We and our esteemed industry and media partners believe there is a need for a venue that fosters dialogue and debate between leading members of the financial community and executives representing the multi-faceted satellite services sector," he added.

For more information on ISIS NYC '06, please visit www.isis-nyc.com or contact David Bross, ISIS NYC '06 Chairman, at: 301-916-2236 or dbross@hfusa.com.


Planet Peter

SLP joins Art Dula, space lawyer and trustee of the Heinlein Estate, in congratulating the inimitableDr. Peter H. Diamandis on winning the inaugural Heinlein Prize for Advances in Space Commercialization.

High five, Peter! (And good luck to Art and the trustees in catching up with the high-flying, ubiquitous space evangelist and entrepreneur to hand him that well-earned $500,000 check....;)


Experimental Permits, Anyone?

When implementing provisions of the CSLAA, FAA/AST is used to good feedback, like the planeload of comments it got in connection with the proposed Human Space Flight Requirements for Crew and Space Flight Participants. Seemed like everybody who was anybody in space transportation popped off in response to that widely read and ultimately well-received NPRM.

But as
Jon Goff alerts us, in connection with the companion rulemaking, Experimental Permits for Reusable Suborbital Rockets -- in which the FAA proposes application requirements for an operator of a reusable suborbital rocket to obtain an experimental permit; and operating requirements and restrictions on launch and reentry of reusable suborbital rockets operated under a permit -- industry folks have remained silent: So far no comments appear on DOT's docket site. Hmm.

For those waiting for the last minute, Jon reminds everyone that the deadline is May 30.

Remember, Congress intended that permits be "granted more quickly and with fewer requirements than licenses." Does this experimental flight permit regime "make it easier for an operator to launch"? What's your view of the regulatory burden this NPRM puts on developers of reusable suborbital rockets?

As to public safety, FAA explains that it "models its experimental permit regime for space transportation on the special airworthiness certificates granted to experimental aircraft. The FAA does not propose to require satisfaction of its risk criteria for a permit as it does for a license. Likewise, of all the system safety management and engineering requirements the FAA requires for a license, the FAA only proposes to require a hazard analysis to obtain a permit."

And FAA proposes to apply a "simplified version" of the three-pronged approach currently used to license the launch of reusable launch vehicles (RLVs).

What do you think of the exclusion of quantitative risk criteria, streamlining of system safety management and engineering, and operating requirements, and other provisions in this proposed rulemaking? Tell FAA/AST what you might prefer and why. And if you think the regulators are on target here, they like to hear that, too.

By the way, yes, this proposal ties in with the earlier NPRM: to conduct a reusable suborbital rocket launch or reentry with flight crew or a space flight participant on board, and applicant would have to demonstrate compliance with part 460, Human Space Flight Requirements.

If you have any questions, send a note to senior attorney Laura Montgomery at FAA, laura.montgomery@faa.gov. (But tell her you saw her e-mail address in the Federal Register, not on SLP ;).

True, all this may not be as engaging as actually building and flying 'em. Or as fun as, say, Jonny Bloggin'. Or, in my case, Jake Bloggin'. But as Jon Goff says, it's important ;)


Rocket Fuel Case Update

Life isn't all fun and thrills. Sometimes folks have to take time away from seriously blasting off rockets to go launch a federal lawsuit or two.

Dick Stafford continues to follow the action in the ammonium perchlorate composite propellant (APCP) federal civil litigation. As we know, on February 10, 2006, the Circuit Court set aside the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) determination that the popular hobby rocket propellant was an "explosive" and sent the case back down to the district court for remand -- big win for the hobby rocket guys and girls (see this SLP post; and here's the Circuit Court opinion if you missed it).

In his April 20th
remand order, District Court Judge Reggie Walton ordered the BATFE to submit a status report to the Court and plaintiffs "outlining the efforts it has taken to comply with the Circuit's mandate." The agency must "identify the laboratory selected by the defendant to perform the testing called for by the Circuit, how long this entity estimates it will take to complete the required analysis, and what additional tasks, if any, the defendant will have to complete to comply..."

And the judge ordered a status hearing for July 26.

Meanwhile, in their
joint statement released May 15, Mark Bundick of the National Association of Rocketry (NAR) and Ken Good of the Tripoli Rocketry Association (TRA) remind supporters they can contribute to the litigation war chest (and you thought hobby rocketry was expensive?) by making a donation. And then you too can say, "I supported the fight for an unregulated sport rocket hobby."

OK, back to work, everyone.

Just Say No National Space Policy?

Fans of the golden days of US national space policy may always feel nostalgia for the JFK era of space achievement and glory. Of course, these days, as Jeff Foust notes, the Bush White House "has yet to release an overarching national space policy." However, at a recent forum on national space policy in Washington that Jeff attended, some participants suggested the lack of a national space policy "may not be that big of a deal."


But seriously, NASA...

I was surprised to learn on NASA Watch today that NASA has posted a solicitation seeking speechwriters to help the space agency communicate.

I thought NASA was pretty good at communicating. Well, at least some NASA officials know and use that sure-fire trick to connecting with the public: work into your speech as many lawyer slams as you can.

A recent example: I breezed through
The Vision for Space Exploration: New Opportunities, the speech delivered at the International Space Development Conference in Los Angeles earlier this month by NASA Ames Research Center's new director Dr. Simon P. Worden. (Speech transcript courtesy of SpaceRef).

Good speech, and in it, Dr. Worden, the newly-minted ARC director, who earned his doctorate in astronomy, used the time to officially share his feelings about -- yick -- lawyers.

First, after quoting Edward Teller who said space is "where you could pretty much do as you liked," Dr. Worden noted with apparent approval, "[i]n short the moon doesn't have an EPA or any other regulatory agencies - or any lawyers."

Then, raising the topic of ownership of lunar real estate, he concluded that the issue "will certainly be argued by far more lawyers than I ever care to deal with - I guess that's not many because even one lawyer is too many for me."


(By the way, some conference attendees may have assumed the ARC director was referring to government lawyers here, since it's probably not in the job description of a federal official on government time to discourage or discount working, taxpaying members of the private sector. Even if they are lawyers. However, others will happily appreciate the NASA official's words as a condemnation of all lawyers. Bless America.)

Well I enjoy this sort of thing, as most folks do. And let's face it, lawyers, at least space lawyers, do love and admire astronomers. But apparently there's no problem of co-dependency in this relationship.

So in support of NASA's quest for better communication skills, and at no charge, I thought I'd offer more lawyer joke material Dr. Worden and other NASA leaders might work into their next speeches.

For example, NASA can say ...

Thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope we have amazing images of distant galaxies colliding. Of course, astronomers have known about colliding galaxies for quite some time, but with the unprecedented sharp optical images provided by Hubble, we can actually see the lawyers rushing to the scene.

Or how about...

Did you hear NASA interviewed an astronomer, a doctor and a lawyer for a seat on a one-way trip to Mars? The first applicant, the astronomer, was asked how much he wanted NASA to pay him for the mission. "A million dollars," he answered, "and I would donate the money to M.I.T." The next applicant, a doctor, answered the same question. "Two million dollars," she said. "I would leave one million for my family, and donate the other million for the advancement of medical research." Finally, the lawyer answered by whispering in the interviewer's ear, "three million." "Why so much more than the others?" asked the interviewer, perplexed. The lawyer explained, "you give me three million, I'll give you one million, I'll keep one million, and we'll send the astronomer to Mars."

(Hey, I don't write this stuff, I find it on the Internet, or on the bathroom wall at the local planetarium...)

Yes sure, sometimes lawyers tell NASA jokes in their speeches, but the material just doesn't pack the same zing. ("Have you heard about NASA's new restaurant on the moon? The food is good, but there's just no atmosphere." See? By the way, send your better jokes to me -- can't get any worse than these -- and I'll happily post 'em.)

Jokes aside, congratulations to Dr. Worden on his job at the space agency. Good luck to NASA in finding their new communicator. And finally, remember, Pete, law school was just "plan B" for otherwise decent folks who, try as they might, could not pass astrophysics ;).

Have a communicative weekend, everyone ;).

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(Image credit: Cartoonstock.com)


Something's Gotta Give

Now that the district court has ruled -- again -- for the defendants in SpaceX's long-shot antitrust action against Boeing and Lockheed's pending ULA deal, Elon Musk and his lawyers must decide whether to appeal. (My guess is the lawyers have already prepared if not filed at least a notice of appeal, or whatever the procedural step is in California federal civil practice.)

(And it doesn't pay to wonder whether that long-awaited decision on the ULA merger itself would be in hand by now if Judge Florence-Marie Cooper worked instead at the FTC.)

Meanwhile, in the courtroom of public opinion that is the US media, SpaceX's VP for international and government affairs Lawrence H. Williams blasts away at ULA with a call to
Let Competition Work. (Via HobbySpace.) This op-ed is, in part, a response to an earlier Space News endorsement of the ULA venture.

Some SpaceX supporters are not happy with the whole situation. Over on
Space Politics today one reader posted a suggestion Elon has heard before -- that the rocket company drop the legal wrangling and focus on rocket launching. But of course, litigation is handled by lawyers -- folks notoriously lame at building rockets. You need to keep those guys busy and out of the way somehow. Besides, SpaceX can walk, sue, build Falcons, and chew gum at the same time. (Especially if Elon is buying all the gum.) In the end, if the company had won (or, going forward, wins) in court, SpaceX supporters would not complain.

Euro Space Biz in Noordwijk

Ready for this year's Industry Space Days (ISD2006)? It's the European Space Agency's space business bash, taking place May 29 - 31 at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), "the largest site and the technical heart of ESA," in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.

ISD2006 looks like the place to be:
ESA tallies, "630 companies and organisations have registered to take part in this event, representing the most important space players within Europe. They include 371 SMEs, 152 larger industrial groups, 36 institutions, 21 networks, 30 research laboratories and 20 national space agencies. For the conference some 6000 face-to-face business meetings have been arranged."

Super. Get ready to speed dial your lawyers from
Noordwijk and do some space deals. Happy Eurospace biz. (And if you miss this year's gathering, the coolest space players in Europe will look for you next time -- at ISD 2008.)

"What is a spaceport anyhow?"

As Space.com senior writer Leonard David reports, a spaceport is "a lot more than plopping down a launch pad."

In his article
Spaceports: Building up the Space Travel Industry, he looks at a hangar full of issues in connection with the "global groundswell of support to build spaceports."

As David notes, since 1996 the FAA/AST has licensed five spaceports in the US: California Spaceport at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Spaceport Florida at Cape Canaveral, the Virginia Space Flight Center at Wallops Island, Kodiak Launch Complex on Kodiak Island, Alaska, and most recently, the Mojave Spaceport in California.

And he adds, approximately "three dozen operational spaceports are spread out around the planet—most of them government owned and operated."

FAA/AST chief Patricia Grace Smith told David, "One might look at a spaceport as an innovative, new century version of what you remember airports first looked like. They will be a gathering place for people to learn and witness, for the first time, the capabilities and benefits of space."

As to her thinking on New Mexico’s spaceport: "you’ll be able to go and take suborbital rides and experience zero-gravity, but also become educated and aware of all the various aspects of space."

What, and who, will fly out of spaceports? We can't wait to find out. Meanwhile, what Burt Rutan calls "the battle of the spaceports," and Derek Webber, director of Spaceport Associates terms an "emerging ... polarization of spaceport providers," is on.

(Here's FAA/AST's
launch site map; and this is a spaceport map from the Rocket Dungeon, via AP.)

* * *
(Spaceport illustration credit:
Amanda Penrose)


SpaceX Dismissal Redux

It was a good try, but Judge Cooper remained unconvinced by SpaceX's tenacious attempt to "overcome the constitutional deficiencies that plague its claim" against Boeing and Lockheed for alleged antitrust violations.

second amended complaint, (2006 WL 819759 C.D.Cal.) (March 9, 2006) fired its rockets but did not fly. On May 11, the court, without hearing oral argument, and "with prejudice" (which means no more bites of the antitrust apple for SpaceX, at least at the district court level in this case) granted defendants' motions to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim.

As did the initial pleading, this second amended complaint alleged violations of section 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, section 7 of the Clayton Act, as well as Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, along with Rico conspiracy, violations of the Cartwright Act (unreasonable restraint of trade and conspiracy to monopolize), and violations of section 17200 of the California Business & Professions Code.

As widely noted, it remained iffy whether there was any way to overcome defendants' successful motions to dismiss; see, Judge Cooper's
order tossing out the first amended complaint, which, as many have noted, she wrote before the failed March 24th Falcon 1 launch. And yes, the judge did make note of the launch failure in this second dismissal, even citing a Wall Street Journal article about the event. Specifically, the court found, "SpaceX's failure to launch an EELV-class vehicle does not preclude it from being considered a competitor but it is a relevant factor in the evaluation." (Footnote 7.)

And in the end, SpaceX's arguments that it was a full-fledged or a potential competitor of Boeing and Lockheed or that defendants' conduct caused the company injury or competitive disadvantage proved unavailing.

Elon Musk did not mention the antitrust case in his talk this month in Los Angeles at the space development conference. But as The Space Review reports, after the Falcon 1 launch attempt, the space entrepreneur and his bold company
"remain publicly as committed as ever to developing vehicles that will reduce the cost of space access for both satellites and humans." And SpaceX's litigation strategy appeared to reflect the company's go for launch attitude. Indeed, pure perseverance can take a business far -- in space, but not always in court. However, as we await an inevitable successful Falcon launch, in court, at least, there's always the right to an appeal.

(Note: Thank you to Ann Barnard at Westlaw for copyright permission here


Boeing to Settle with Justice

(As SLP risks slowly morphing into Boeing Blog....) Here's more news from the world's #1 aerospace company, and a nice office-warming gift for Judge Luttig, the newly named GC of Boeing: After three years of federal investigations and recent rumors of settlement, the Wall Street Journal reports the company has reached a deal with the feds: Boeing will pay $615 million to settle civil and criminal claims in connection with the defense procurement scandals, the details of which you've read ad nauseum, no need to review. (By the way, the above link is to Reuters, for folks without Journal subscriptions.)

Suffice to note, the hefty settlement amount (which may be a record in the wild world of procurement misconduct) gets Boeing off without having to "admit wrongdoing."

These scandals
already cost the company estimated revenue of $1 billion in suspensions and canceled launch contracts, as well as jail sentences for two executives and the resignation of one CEO (Phil Condit). (And I do not know if outgoing GC Doug Bain counts himself as a casualty of all this.) Not to mention a crashed and burned reputation. (And there were plenty other misdeeds and missteps along the way.) (Some people even remember the Raytheon debacle.)

Meanwhile, what about
Lockheed's civil suit against Boeing for trade secret theft still pending in district court in Florida? Under the terms of the proposed ULA joint venture between the two rivals, if the deal wins approval (holding your breath?), Lockheed will drop its action. (The WSJ suggests DOJ's not making Boeing admit wrongdoing hurts the Florida case, but I'm not so sure. Agreeing to pay $615 million to the feds is not exactly a ringing declaration of innocence.)

Boeing has also settled some shareholder suits in connection with the procurement malfeasance.

So, is the company finally turning the corner? How interesting to watch Boeing navigate its "new frontier" of ethics and good corporate governance, eh?


Judge Luttig Flies to Boeing

So busy reporting on all the exciting non-news and dazzling continuing lack of developments on the ULA deal (ho-hum), I almost neglected to post this item, which actually is news.

When's the last time we heard of an appellate judge resigning his or her lifetime seat on the federal bench to go inhouse at a Fortune 500 company?

Judge Michael Luttig of the conservative
Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, whose name is familiar from, among other things, that ever-handy short list of potential nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as his quite noteworthy opinion in the Padilla case, in which he rebuffed the administration, never got that call from President Bush. But he got one from Boeing.

Judge Luttig will be the next senior vice president and general counsel at Boeing. (Link via Instapundit.) The challenge was irresistible. There's always plenty of high-level work for a talented lawyer at Boeing; and lately, it seems, there's more than ever.

And no doubt a cool few million dollars more in annual compensation over a judge's salary goes a long way to convince a jurist, especially one with two college bound kids, to cross over to the lucrative side of law practice.

In fact, you might wonder why thing sort of thing doesn't happen on the legal stage every day.

Here's the judge's letter of resignation to President Bush. He writes, "Boeing may well be the only company in America for which I would have ever considered leaving the court."

No hard feelings on the part of the judicial branch, then? As Boeing says, "Forever New Frontiers." And these days, what giant aerospace company couldn't use a good judge? ;)


No news is ULA news

I've created an automatic post that reads, "Oh sure, we've heard that before" and set it to appear on SLP each time reports pop up in the media that a decision on ULA is expected "within a few weeks." Which of course happens approximately once a month.

But this week there was a
real development in the ULA deal: An apology from the DoD that there are no developments.

That's right. And there's more. Apparently officials at Boeing and Lockheed said, "the review was taking longer than expected." Oh wait, they said that in January.

The plot thins.

But thank goodness, as
Jeff noted, a company called Labwire is ready to monitor would-be ULA workers for alcohol and such. Because if we all don't start bending the elbow while awaiting a development in the ULA saga it'll be more of a miracle than an actual development.

No really. Stay tuned for an imminent decision by the FTC. Something. Anything. And many will toast to it, whatever it is. (Oh sure, we've heard that before.)

(Meanwhile, my question is, why is the Pentagon apologizing for the delay? They've already weighed in. Shouldn't the FTC apologize?)

* * *

By the way, reputable defense analyst Loren Thompson makes reference to "financial burdens that government lawyers keep adding to the proposal" which "threatened to undermine the business case for the deal." That certainly could gum things up. I would also include other "burdens" lawyers may be blamed for creating which also serve to complicate the calculus in this joint venture, including, for example, the Sherman Act and the Clayton Act. And for more on all that, read through the meaty Second Amended Complaint in SpaceX v. Boeing (2006 WL 819759 C.D.Cal.) -- Elon Musk's ongoing attempt to block the merger.


Commercial Space Idol

Alan Boyle has an update on NASA's first round picks for COTS, the $500 million space contracts competition he compares with ever-hot American Idol. And it's true, only the most talented, motivated, fearless, young, and sexy commercial space companies make the cut.

SLP congratulates the finalists, Spacehab, Rocketplane Kistler, SpaceX, t/Space, (consortium includes AirLaunch, Constellation Services International, Orion Propulsion, Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute and RedZone Robotics, Universal Space Lines and Scaled Composites), SpaceDev and Andrews Space.

Yes, but can they sing?

(Hat tip:
Michael Belfiore, who as Alan notes first posted the COTS news yesterday.)


Now that it is official -- two American scientific instruments will fly onboard India's maiden, unmanned moon mission, Chandraayan-I -- I went over to ISRO looking for some pictures of what the spacecraft, named "moon ship," "moon vehicle," "moon vessel," "moon voyage," depending on the translation you're reading)("moon mobile?", "moon buggy?" -- nah) will look like. But all I could find was this image of Mike Griffin in Bangalore yesterday with ISRO chief G Madhavan Nair signing a MoU (I think there were two memoranda, but don't bother looking for that online today, either.)

(By the way, memoranda of understanding are basically statements of policy or intent. They're not legally binding instruments. Which doesn't mean lawyers can't help craft them. But never mind that.)

I agree with folks who find this step between India and the US a good thing. And working together in space with India is not exactly new. As the Department of State affirms in this
fact sheet (March 2, 2006), the "United States and India have been cooperating on space for decades." And in March, the US and India agreed, among other things, to "continue exploring further cooperation in civil space" and "opening up new opportunities for commercial space...." That meant Chandraayan-I and more. (See also this ISRO backgrounder on Indian-US space cooperation.)

शुभ कामनाएँ to Chandraayan-I!


English Flying Saucers and FOIA

Last week we learned about a case involving the use of the US Freedom of Informtion Act (FOIA)(5 U.S.C. §552) to get information from NASA. That particular FOIA request covered business records of the agency.

Across the pond, under the UK's
newly-enacted FOIA (which "received Royal Assent" in November 2000, but only entered fully into force in January 2005 -- and what took the UK so long to fully enact a FOI regime?), a clever British alien hunter quickly employed the law to obtain a very different type of space-related information from his government.

The UK FOIA request filer, who asked the Ministry of Defense to provide "details of its plans for 'dealing with the arrival of extra-terrestrials," may not have found what he hoped. This week the
Ministry released a 400-page report which confirmed "a secret study completed in December 2000 had found no evidence that 'flying saucers' or unidentified flying objects were anything other than natural phenomena."

(By the way, if you gotta release a secret report under a FOIA request, go all the way. According to Reuters, the Ministry will post the document, "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena in the UK Air Defense Region," on
its Web site on May 15. And if you can't wait until then, check out the report of England's Flying Saucer Working Party from 1951, already on the MoD's site, and in the British National Archives, no FOIA request needed, which had already concluded "all UFO sightings could be explained as misidentifications of ordinary objects or phenomena, optical illusions, psychological delusions or hoaxes.")

Not a good week for alien wranglers; unless you count this as hot new grist for the conspiracy/cover-up mill. Cool.

(Here in the States we've been using FOIA for years to hunt for evidence of aliens. For example, I haven't seen it but this
CD-ROM apparently includes documents of the NSA, FBI, etc. released under FOIA which relate to "UFOs, space aliens, extraterrestrials, and other unusual phenomena...")

Meanwhile, as the
BBC reported in its overview of the UK FOIA's initial impact, despite slowness and backlog, "the verdict on the first year is, in some ways, positive. New information of real value is reaching the public for the first time."

Jolly good.

(But wait -- without flying saucers over England, how can we explain those crop circles?)

* * *

Happy belated 80th birthday from Space Law Probe to Her Majesty the Queen. ;)


Got Space Ethics?

This blog isn't Space Ethics Probe. But ethics is, or should be, the business of everyone, including everyone in space business.

As part of the track on Politics and Space Advocacy at
ISDC 2006, Dr. Patrick Lin, research director at The Nanoethics Group, "a non-partisan organization that studies the ethical and societal impact of nanotechnology," presented his own space ethics overview in the form of this "think piece," Space Ethics: Look Before Taking Another Leap for Mankind.

Here, Dr. Lin broadly sets forth the familiar as well as emerging ethical issues for consideration in space development -- "environmental conservation, competing priorities, safety risks and non-proliferation" as well as property rights, economics, governance, and let's not forget the quandary, do we have the right to go to space at all? (Dr. Lin acknowledges, "[w]anderlust is in our DNA -- that's simply what humans do." Besides, he points out, if you believe in the big bang, why wouldn't we "have the right to travel back from where we came? We already covered the distance, so exploring outer space doesn't really cover new territory; we've been there.")

While he doesn't solve the issues he raises (some of which are actually more legal than ethical) he does suggest that, going forward, we as the final "frontiersmen" take "time to consider what our responsibilities are" and learn some lessons from recent history (including development of cyberspace and Antarctica).

Dr. Lin believes we "probably don't want" a "rush into orbit without a 'big picture' strategy -- allowing individuals or corporations or governments to make up a plan as they go along, whether it's to camp on or erect billboards on or lay claim to other planets, untethered by orderly processes and safeguards."

He asks, "is it a good enough reason to inhabit another planet, because we want a "do-over" if we destroy our own? And if so, again, what are we doing to ensure that we don't make the same mistakes and lay waste to another biosphere?" Here he cautions, "[i]f we have put ourselves in a position where we need a back-up plan, it is unclear how colonizing space will improve our predicament until we address those root issues."

And as we "move forward with our journey," Dr. Lin suggests using "forethought and advance planning related to the social, political and economic landscape of space living, in addition to the usual near-term issues in space ethics." After all, if "this is our chance for a fresh start, then we should be deliberate and careful with our actions, thinking through as many of the unintended consequences as possible."

In other words, ad astra ethically.


Space in L.A.

The annual International Space Development Conference (going on now - May 4-7, 2006, in Los Angeles, California) attracts no shortage of lawyers. You decide if this is a good sign.

Look at the line-up for this year's gathering. Starting with Shana Dale of NASA, I see lawyers on the schedule include Art Dula, Berin Michael Szoka, Pamela Meredith, folks from FAA/AST such as Randy Repcheck and Stacey Zee (as well as AST chief Patti Smith who lots of folks think is a lawyer), Bill White, Prof. Mark J. Sundahl, Tracey Knutson, Kerry Scarlott, along with an assortment of lawyer types who on hand but not wearing their lawyer hats for this event (-- and don't worry SLP won't out you).

Space law and policy topics on the conference agenda include new federal and state legislation, licensing and regulation, space resource appropriation, real property rights, insurance and risk management in commercial launches, tort law issues for private spaceflight, intellectual property rights, the VSE, environmental issues and ITAR reform.

And lots of hot space business topics that lawyers are seriously interested in. (Follow the money to find more lawyers.)

As everyone knows, a space conference cannot claim to be one of the main events of the year unless it warrants it own
special edition page on HobbySpace. Don't miss the ISDC updates and resources there.

Have a great ISDC.
Happy Space Day 2006 weekend.


Suing NASA for Agency Records

Sounds like they're mad. On the American Small Business League's website today, a press release appears under the header, NASA Sued Over Fraudulent Contract Data.

However, to be more precise, at least as I read the complaint in American Small Business League v. NASA, filed yesterday in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, (a copy of which ASBL president Lloyd Chapman graciously forwarded to me this afternoon), the action is "under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, ("FOIA") for injunctive and other appropriate relief to compel the disclosure and release of documents improperly withheld from Plaintiff by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration."

Pursuant to its FOIA request of December 2005, the small business watchdog group has sought "'all documents in possession of NASA indicating the names of the firms coded as small businesses' for the years 2002, 2003 and 2004 'and the dollar amounts they were awarded an [sic] NASA small business contracts.'" Allegedly, NASA had acknowledged receipt of the request but failed to respond. ASBL now seeks a court order compelling NASA to immediately cough up the goods.

In the League's press release, Chapman states, "I believe NASA is falsifying their small business reports to Congress and I believe that they are allowing their contractors to falsify their small business reports. I've also seen evidence that NASA is protecting large companies that are intentionally misrepresenting themselves as small in order to illegally receive small business contracts."

The release also refers to this GAO report:
Reporting of Small Business Contract Awards Does Not Reflect Current Business Size. (May 7, 2003)

ASBL's action here highlights interesting, although not quite new, questions and concerns about whether small business awards always go to small businesses. (See this
SBA report, dated Feb. 24, 2005, which essentially says they do not.)

It is unclear whether NASA wrongfully withheld agency records and what happened in connection with NASA's response to ASBL's original FOIA request. Most certainly NASA will respond now.

(Hat Tip:
NASA Watch.)


A World of Space Agencies

Last week Mexico moved toward the creation of a national space agency when the lower chamber of congress approved a law that would create the Mexican Space Agency. Next, the senate must ratify and the president sign the bill. While the initial budget of the agency would be quite miniscule -- just $2 million -- as one Mexican space enthusiast posted in an online discussion, "it's expected that by the beginning of next year the governmental agency starts operations... This would be Mexico's first governmental space related office in more than 30 years, after the closure of the National Commission for the External Space in the early 70's. The creation of the Mexican Space Agency has been a long fought dream of many generations, and this is the closest it has been to its creation. Hopefully everything will go ok, and Mexico will be able to become a space faring nation."

As the new space era advances, more nations will fund their own space endeavors, support their citizen space tourists and entrepreneurs and join the space club.

For now, here is a list of national space agencies around the world -- outside the US (and please e-mail me links to any additional sites or other updates you may have):

Argentina -
National Commission on Space Activities (CONAE)

Australia -
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO)

Austria -
Austrian Space Agency

Bangladesh -
Bangladesh Space Research and Remote Sensing Organization

Belgium -
Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy

Brazil -
Brazilian Space Agency (AEB)
Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE)

Bulgaria -
Bulgarian Aerospace Agency

Canada -
Canadian Space Agency (CSA)

China -
China National Space Administration (CNSA)

Denmark -
Danish Space Research Institute

Europe -
European Space Agency (ESA)

Finland -
Finland National Technology Agency (Tekes)

France -
Centre Nationale d' Etudes Spatiales (CNES); Centre d'Études et de Recherches de Toulouse (CERT); Office National d'Etudes et de Recherches Aérospatiales (ONERA)

Germany -
German Space Agency (DLR)

Greece -
Greek Institute for Space Applications and Remote Sensing

Hungary -
Hungarian Space Office

India -
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)

Indonesia -
Lembaga Penerbangan dan Antariksa Nasional (LAPAN) National Institute of Aeronautics and Space

Iran -
Iran Space Agency (ISA)

Israel -
Israel Ministry of Science and Technology

Italy -
Italian Space Agency (ASI)

Japan -
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Korea -
Korea Aerospace Research Institute

Lebanon -
National Center for Remote Sensing

Netherlands -
Netherlands Agency for Aerospace Programs; National Aerospace Laboratory(NLR); Space Research Organization Netherlands (SRON)

Nigeria -
National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA)

Norway -
Norwegian Space Center

Pakistan -
Pakistan Space & Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco)

Peru -
National Commission for Aerospace Research & Development (CONIDA)

Poland -
Space Research Centre

Portugal -
National Institute of Industrial Engineering and Technology (INETI)

Romania -
Romanian Space Agency

Russia -
Russian Federal Space Agency (RKA)

Saudi Arabia -
Space Research Institute (SRI)

Spain -
Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA)

Sweden -
Swedish National Space Board (SNSB); Swedish Space Corporation (SSC); Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF)

Switzerland -
Swiss Space Office (SSO)

Taiwan -
National Space Program Office (NSPO)

Thailand -
Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA)

Turkey - Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (Tubitak)

Ukraine -
National Space Agency of Ukraine (NSAU)

United Kingdom -
British National Space Centre


Got space law summer job?

(Sometimes SLP can't help but channel craigslist and post a classified or two...)

A reader who is currently completing his second year at
Loyola University School of Law School in New Orleans, and has survived Katrina, seeks a space law position for the summer.

Benjamin Jarrell writes, "I would love to work in space law in some capacity when I graduate... I am particularly interested in administrative regulation of aerospace by NASA, the DOT, and the FAA -- although as a student I can't say that I have much relevant experience at this point. I am registered for a course on international space law for next semester, and I will probably utilize the material in that class to fulfill my writing requirement. If the paper is good, I would consider trying to get it published in an appropriate journal.

He adds, "I realize I am pretty late in the game in asking, but Katrina threw a pretty big wrench in my job search this year. Compensation isn't as important to me as valuable experience, so if you know of any openings or if you have any friends in the field who could use my help this summer, please let me know or send them my way."

No worries, Benjamin. Contact this future space lawyer at

For more legal employment resources, there's always
lawjobs.com and LawCrossing.

(And doesn't hurt to keep check the
space jobs listings on HobbySpace because I'm certain one day a job for a space lawyer will appear. Currently, I see a new listing for XCOR, which is the kind of company many would pay to work at. Unfortunately, it's not a lawyer position.)

Meanwhile, for future space lawyers seeking to meet space folks and make friends, I recommend joining the
Space Generation, a global network of students, forward-thinking space enthusiasts and future space professionals (which features a big, active e-mail list/community hosted by Jim Volp).

The Write Stuff

A sharp investigation into the popular tale of NASA's so dubbed billion-dollar space pen -- a die-hard myth that was always at least flimsy enough to scrawl in crow quill on parchment -- yields facts we can now chisel in stone: As Dwayne Dyer reports in The Space Review, the infamous Fisher space pens "never cost a lot of money and were not developed by wasteful bureaucrats or overactive NASA engineers." Take notes.

(Space pen story was also debunked
here, on Snopes.)

(Personally, I never believed it. But I am convinced, and Dwayne has now confirmed, that Gus Grissom and John Young did fly a brassiere aboard Gemini Titan 3. Which presumably cost NASA nothing; however, for their use of this particular item, back at home the prankster astronauts may or may not have paid dearly.)

Saluting Commander Collins

Space Law Probe congratulates pioneering Astronaut Eileen Collins on her ground-breaking and uniquely accomplished career, and wishes her all the best in her post-NASA endeavors.

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