Anousheh's Apple

Not easy to pick a favorite item from all the photos, blog messages, news articles, media reports and global coverage in connection with Anousheh Ansari's historic visit to the International Space Station, but this little video is a top contender: the Iranian-born American businesswoman, now pioneering space explorer, lovingly tossing and spinning an apple in weightlessness while talking poetically about sleeping and dreaming in space and looking up close at the Milky Way. Priceless.

And really, what were the chances a Muslim female from a hard-line Islamic state would one day sit with four male astronauts and smile down on our beleaguered planet from her seat -- which she bought with her own hard-earned millions -- on an orbiting space station? Kinda gives you hope for humankind's future. (Alas, other
headlines today are not so uplifting.)

Here is the fearless, high-flying, apple-pie smiling, stargazing chairman and co-founder of Prodea Systems,
thanking her supporters on Earth.

But really, Anousheh. Thank you ;).
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

"Dream, dream big. Don't let anyone tell you that your dreams are impossible. Don't ever give up on it and make sure you are thinking freely and letting your imagination go. Don't have any boundaries and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. If you believe in that, if you pursue it, you will get to what you want inside your heart. And I promise you that." --
Anousheh Ansari, Sept. 25, 2006


Government Space at George Mason

Interested in how the US makes space policy? Perplexed about the federal space offices and departments of the world's only "space superpower"? Want a better understanding of the US government's involvement in space activities?

Over at George Mason University's Arlington campus, for the fourth consecutive year, it's time for the unique short course aptly titled,
The U.S. Government Space Sector, Oct. 17-19, 2006.

If you have not attended one of these programs, the two and a half day offering, developed by the GMU School of Public Policy's
Center for Aerospace Policy Research, along with co-sponsors, the American Astronautical Society and the Space Foundation, provides "an overview of the departments and agencies, both civil and military, involved with U.S. Government space programs." Thank goodness.

Who should attend? According to GMU, people "entering the space field - civil servants, military and non-government alike - who would benefit from a broad-based understanding of the overall extent of the U.S. government's involvement in space." Space lawyers are not specifically invited, but I'd say they need the help as much as anyone.

Here's the

Go figure out the government. A lot of smart folks are working on it.

(Regards to Ian Pryke ;)


Meanwhile, back at home...

This week while the NASA chief is over in China (practicing what might be considered a new form of shuttle diplomacy,) folks on the home front have been talking about him behind his back. And some of the talk is pretty positive. At least one poll (conducted in August and released yesterday by the Coalition for Space Exploration) shows American support is still strong for NASA’s space exploration vision.

(Of course there are always other polls . . .)


First Date With China

Today NASA chief Mike Griffin is in China, saying 你好 ("ni hao"; hello) to Chinese space officials in a visit he has called a "first date." Indeed, the trip marks the first time a head of the US space agency has paid a visit to the third nation in the world to send its own citizens into orbit.

Here are
highlights of Dr. Griffin's trip posted on NASA.gov. This is a news update (via AP). And we'll be hearing more about the visit, which lasts until Thursday.

Jeff Foust says, "there's little evidence of a space race brewing between the US and China (despite occasional hyperbolic claims to the contrary)..."

* * *
On a semi-related note, while NASA at home has
withdrawn an invitation to the Sex in Space author to sign copies of her hot book at JPL, I wonder if folks at the China National Space Administration (CNSA) will be reading her publication? (I'm sure Mike did not bring along any gift copies. Well come on, it's not that kind of date.) (Link via NASA Watch.)

UPDATE 9/26: Some news on the talks -
transcript of the press conference in Beijing, with Mike Griffin along with astronaut Shannon Lucid, associate administrator for space operations Bill Gerstenmaier and U.S. ambassador to China Clark Randt, Jr., in which Dr. Griffin said, among other things, "There are no plans on our part to work with China on the ISS construction." (Via SpaceRef)

And some quick links:
NASA to Limit Cooperation with China's Space Program - (AP via Space.com)

NASA, China consider limited space ties: In Beijing, U.S. space chief says joint human missions are `down the road.' (Reuters via MSNBC)

Visiting China, NASA chief indicates nations won't partner up soon. (Houston Chronicle)


Friday Flybys - 9.22.06

For you Flybys fans, some goodies this week . . .

  • In The Space Review, Alex Howerton has a piece discussing implementing the FAA’s commercial space flight safety and training guidelines.

  • From George Washington University's The Daily Colonial, here's a brief recap of Prof. John Dodson's Tuesday evening lecture,
  • “Outer Space: The Next Frontier for International Affairs?”

    In his Dollars & Sense column this month, telecomm lawyer Owen Kurtin looks at antitrust enforcement in and out of the satellite sector. (Via Satellite)

  • If you missed this week's program the University of Mississippi School of Law's National Remote Sensing and Space Law Center entitled, "Divergences and Convergences: A Symposium Addressing Space Law and Intellectual Property Regimes," you can find an archive of the webcast here.

  • Rand Simberg was on hand at the AIAA conference for Bigelow's big announcement about its space hotel. (Speaking of Rand, there is no confirmation that the mystery debris floating around outside the shuttle included Rand's lost mouse.)

  • Clark keeps up with hot Lockheed news (and everything else).

  • How cool was it that the crew of Atlantis and Ms. Ansari with her fellow travelers shared some orbital headlines this week? Ours is a small planet and the space around it just got smaller, too.

  • Finally, there is no truth to any rumor that I have been spotted on the 3D virtual world Second Life, hanging out in a makeshift office and dispensing legal information to residents. But if you happen to be over there and see my avatar (who is taller and sports more outrageous hairstyles than me) go over and say hi!

  • Happy Autumnal Equinox. Have a great weekend ;)


    Reviewing ULA

    It's been so long since we've had any word on ULA, some may have forgotten what ULA is.

    Here is a review.

    ULA is:

    A Mongolian tribe.
    An ancient Tongan dance.
    A district in Turkey.
    A village in Norway.
    A river in Lithuania.
    A a class of Norwegian submarines.
    A type of a silicon chip (uncommitted logic array).
    A Venezuelan regional TV channel.
    An extinct Hawaiian Honeycreeper.
    A hero in Hawaiian mythology (Nana-Ula).
    The journey to final judgment in the Ayyavazhi mythology (Nadutheervai Ula).

    Yes, all that and more.

    By the way, when I said I was disabling my
    ULA-auto post, I lied. So here it is again, in response to the latest reports that the FTC may decide on Boeing and Lockheed's proposed government rocket launch business merger in "two or three weeks" (and clearly these news reports are generated by some kind of auto-post applet too): "Oh sure. We've heard that before."

    * * *
    Image: A bend in the river Ūla in Dzūkija National Park in southern Lithuania (via Wikipedia). And if you look carefully, you may see government antitrust regulators camping out on the river's edge.


    FAA Permit for Blue

    Thank goodness for Jeff Bezos Congress felt strongly about reducing the regulatory burden on developers of reusable suborbital rockets and enacted an experimental permit regime to streamline the authorization process. (49 U.S.C. 70105a)

    As expected, and Alan Boyle
    reports, FAA spokesperson Hank Price confirmed on Friday that FAA/AST issued an experimental permit to Blue Origin to conduct its rocket tests at the company's under-construction spaceport site in West Texas.

    (By now everyone has poured through the 20MB final Blue Origin
    environmental assessment, signed off by AST in August, which contains juicy details of the company's rocket plans.)

    As Hank noted, the one-year experimental permit is renewable. Fire away.


    Space Law and IP Symposium

    Reminder: the University of Mississippi School of Law's galactically renowned National Remote Sensing and Space Law Center has a hot program today, Divergences and Convergences: A Symposium Addressing Space Law and Intellectual Property Regimes (8:30am-5:00pm, moot court room 1).

    And if you're not in lovely Oxford, Mississippi, join me as I tune in for the
    live Webcast beginning at 8:45. I'll bring the coffee and croissants.

    Regards to Prof. Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz and the hardworking crew down at the NRSSLC. (And congratulations on the shiny new website.)


    The Amazing Adventures of Anousheh Ansari

    Basically, it's Anousheh Ansari's world, we just live in it.

    Alan Boyle as well as Space.com interviewed the engineer, millionaire buniesswoman, Ansari X-Prize sponsor and now, first lady of private spaceflight a few days before her historic voyage the International Space Station aboard Soyuz, which launched today from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Check out
    her blog for updates from space. Cool.

    Yes it is a very long way to Earth orbit from Mashhad, Iran, where Anousheh was born (40 years ago last week -- Sept. 12, 1966). And when you're an Iranian-American Muslim woman space tourist, issues may come up concerning things like your religion, choice of spacesuit patch, pictures of your hair, available toilet facilities and other stuff. But all that falls away at liftoff.

    Quick message to Anousheh (who speaks Farsi, French, English and now some Russian, too) from Space Law Probe (brushing up on the Farsi, here): تولدت مبارک
    (Happy Birthday!)
    and تبریک می گویم

    Be the change.


    Extraterrestrial Human Rights

    If all goes well, in the reasonably near future, not all humans will be Earthlings. While many on Earth do look forward to generations born and living in space colonies and settlements, not all humans favor the idea of our humble species inhabiting new places in space.

    In The Space Review this week, Michael Huang worries about efforts "to ban humans from Mars and other places" and
    calls for a declaration that, "[a]ll human beings have the right to exist at any place beyond Earth" or, perhaps a broader proclamation that, "[h]uman beings beyond Earth have the same rights as human beings on Earth." Michael wants to ensure "the hard-won rights that humans have achieved on Earth -- including, of course, the right to exist -- would apply to people in space."

    No objections here. Naturally, human rights matter, both on and off Earth. (ET rights? Alas, no human has met an extraterrestrial, and our law does not address whether theoretical beings have rights, or a right to exist, here or elsewhere. Not yet anyway.)

    As a matter of law on the home planet -- at the national as well as international level -- human beings enjoy many rights. But despite its name, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for example, may not apply throughout the universe. This document, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations December 10, 1948, presumably addresses the rights of humans at home. It certainly makes no mention of any human right to exist, say, on Mars.

    Of course, when it comes to rights in space, the big topic of the new commercial space age has been property rights (-- that is, real estate as well as intellectual property,) not human rights.

    The idea of a declaration of human rights in space is relatively new. It came up, among other places, at the Space Generation Forum at UNISPACE-III in 1999, and in 2000 at the
    UN/European Space Agency symposium on youth in space activities, in Graz, Austria. (See, #9 on this list of draft recommendations of the Space Generation Forum.)

    But the matter of human rights per se is not addressed in the
    international treaties and principles governing outer space, nor is it exactly big on the agenda of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space's Legal Subcommittee. Perhaps COPUOS would like to take up the issue in coming sessions?

    (That is, if no Martians object.)
    * * *
    Image: 2001: A Space Odyssey; MGM 1968


    One bad apple

    What do we make of the unfortunate case of Walter Anderson, the telecomm and space biz bigwig who plead guilty last week to two counts of federal tax evasion and one count of fraud and now holds the US national if not galactic record for personal income tax crime (at least among those who got caught) -- failing to report $365 million?

    Well, now he has to pay it -- although his lawyers are still waiting for their fees -- and faces up to 10 years in prison. (He'll be sentenced in January.)

    Walter, the big time space investor and enthusiast who we know from, among other things, ventures such as MirCorp, Rotary Rocket and Orbital Recovery should not reflect badly on space business entrepreneurs. Most space folks pay their taxes.

    I don't have the indictment but here is the original
    DOJ press release announcing the charges against Walter last year. (Feb. 28, 2005)

    Here are reports on the case via
    The Washington Post and Bloomberg.

    By the way, if any big bucks tax scammers are looking forward to future space settlements as hot new tax havens or locations for shell companies, secret accounts, drop boxes and those sorts of clever things, as IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson said, "This case sends a strong signal to anyone thinking about going offshore to avoid taxes. We have stepped up our efforts to pursue high-income tax cheating, whether it takes place in the United States or overseas."

    Presumably, this policy will extend to space, too.

    * * *
    Image credit: CNNMoney.com


    Space Medicine Probe

    (No, Space Law Probe is not changing its name, or going back to blog school to learn a new trade. You decide if that's a good thing.)

    Dr. Vishal Nangalia shares this annoucement:

    * * *
    The UK Space Biomedicine Group (UKSBG) is hosting the 3rd UK Space Medicine Conference on the weekend of the 30th September - 1st October at the National Space Centre in Leicester, UK.

    This is an international Symposium supported by the Space Medicine Association. The Speakers at this years conference have a diverse background from NASA and ESA flight surgeons, professors, space entrepreneurs, to exceptional young biomedical professionals. The topics although biomedically focused are accessible to all and we would like to encourage attendance by everyone.

    For further information please check out the
    UK Space Biomedicine Group - 3rd Space Medicine Conference.

    Or email me: vishal@spacesurgeons.com.

    Ad Astra,
    * * *

    Illustration: Cells (or are they strange KBO's even smaller and funnier-shaped than Pluto?) courtesy of NASA.


    Five Years

    Here in NYC this morning (not at Ground Zero, just my apartment on 78th Street) on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on America, I've been looking at some now too-familiar photographs, video clips and reading the latest musings about that terrible, world-changing day.

    Here is an image I had not seen before: A collection of photographs of the individuals killed (all except 92) on September 11, 2001, introduced as an exhibit in the federal case U.S. v. Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person convicted in the US in connection with the 9/11 attacks. (Exh. GX-P200336) (On May 4, 2006 Moussaoui was sentenced to life in prison without parole.) And if you would like a better view of this exhibit, or to review an archive of trial documents, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has a
    CD-ROM of Moussaoui trial exhibits available for $10.

    (FindLaw also has a good collection of documents from
    civil and criminal terror cases, including the Moussaoui case.)

    SLP remembers victims of the attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

    * * *
    The number of casualties will be more than most of us can bear. -- Then-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Sept. 11.


    Sadeh on Space Policy

    Dr. Eligar Sadeh of the University of North Dakota's Department of Space Studies will give a "short course" on space policy at the San Jose Marriott in San Jose, California on Sept. 22-23, 2006. The course, which "provides a comprehensive analysis of space policy encompassing the United States civil, commercial, and military space programs," is based on and titled after Dr. Sadeh's book: Space Politics and Policy: An Evolutionary Perspective. So if "you know the way to San Jose" (famous first for the song, then as "capital of Silicon Valley"), or happen to be in town for the AIAA's Space 2006 conference earlier that same week, sign in for Eligar's class. He'll be taking attendance.


    Counsel for Pluto

    Personally, all along I was prepared for the exigency that Pluto was not a planet. Over at my favorite, local planetarium and science museum, Pluto already lived in no-planet's land, its name stripped from the exhibition of planets for years. (Yes, Pluto executioner Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York knows the power of what he calls the "Plutocracy"; alas, his "folders of hate mail from third-graders" are not on display at the Museum.

    Being a planet carries with it certain rights and no small measure of respect. What can a defrocked, disenfranchised, shunned and stigmatized former planet do about its humiliation and loss? The announcement by Washington Post blogger Andrew Cohen that
    Pluto has sued the IAU drew responses from more than 150 readers, not all of whom happily recognized celestial litigation or supported the extraterrestrial plaintiff. Oh well. In a follow up a few days later, Cohen had to clarify, "Uh, Folks, There Are No People on Pluto." (Well how does he know? Besides, what is the definition of people?)

    Meanwhile, over at the Wall Street Journal's
    Law Blog, blogger lawyer Dan Hull (of What About Clients?) considered possible causes of action for the disgruntled dwarf heavenly body formerly considered a planet. He suggested: A claim in equity; quantum meruit; breach of celestial contract for services rendered; eminent domain, "Cosmic taking" damages under the Fifth Amendment; fraud, misrepresentation, or at least a detrimental reliance theory under the Restatement of Contracts (2nd). And he noted, "Even Justice Scalia might give standing to an aggrieved planet. We wait for Pluto's phone call."

    Others ideas from readers: "This is really just a re-zoning issue." And, "Pluto may have excellent dilution or name disparagement claims. Dropping it from honored status to calling it a dwarf - that'll dilute your good name. There too are actual damages, just the loss of Pluto-identifying sales at the Hayden Planetarium gift shop alone. Read all the statutes and law on dilution, and you'll drift off into another orbit." And even, "A size-discrimination claim?"

    Lawyers may also have a personal stake in this astronomically significant debate. Some folks have speculated that
    prosecutors are from Neptune, defense attorneys are from Pluto. Or is it the other way around?

    And although no lawyers served on the IAU Planet Definition Committee, or voted that a planet is "a celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a . . . nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit," already the debate has been categorized as
    "lawyerly nitpicking."

    In any case, it will soon be time to move on.
    But not yet. For now, some contemplate the literal meaning of Pluto's new status. Columbia University School of Law professor Michael Dorf considers, among other things, the time "the Department of Agriculture proposed rules that would permit states to count ketchup as a vegetable in calculating what qualified as a reimbursable school lunch." Was ketchup a condiment or a vegetable? The debate was nearly as devisive.

    And what are lawmakers doing in defense of poor Pluto? Jeff Foust
    reports "a that a resolution introduced in the California State Assembly hours after the IAU's decision, HR 36, condemns the International Astronomical Union's decision to strip Pluto of its planetary status for its tremendous impact on the people of California and the state's long term fiscal health". However in Utah, The Salt Lake Tribune's poll of Utah's congressional delegation found no support for a Pluto Restoration Act of 2006 or Resolution to Re-Designate Pluto as a Planet. As Jeff reported, one representative remarked, "Since most members of Congress believe the universe revolves around them individually, I doubt most of them would be too concerned about losing a competing planet."

    Never mind Utah, in Wisconsin last night the Madison City Council approved a resolution proclaiming Pluto Madison's ninth planet.

    In the end, sadly, there may be no legal cause of action for the little world. But on a bright note, we've all rediscovered our fondness for Pluto the dog. At least he knows what he is. And of course, there's that obligatory hot market for t-shirts, mousepads, mugs and other "Pluto memorabilia worthy of a presidential candidate."

    And really, the whole traumatic experience must in some ways be liberating for Pluto. The ex-planet is now free to let down its hair and do unplanet-like things, such as, oh, "grow a glowing tail of sun-blown ice vapor" or just generally be more open about its not so secret trans-Neptunian nature.

    In the end, advocates for planet wanna-be's, KBO's and all objects that orbit the Sun past Neptune, not to mention individuals who are
    dwarfs, (dwarves? little people?), should not take offense at Pluto's offense. After all, ours is a big, diverse solar system. And labels are so silly. Why can't we all just get along?
    * * *
    Image credit: DC Comics


    Journal of Space Law, Summer '06

    Summer's not over yet. Check out the latest issue of everyone's favorite space law journal, the University of Mississippi School of Law's Journal of Space Law.

    Jacquie Serrao, who is the Journal's executive editor, sent over the table of contents for our perusal. Excellent line-up of contributors and topics, as usual. And no, the Journal is not available online (we can't have everything) but to request a copy of this or past issues, or any Journal articles, send a note to Jacquie at
    jserrao@olemiss.edu, or the inimitable Prof. Joanne Gabrynowicz at jsl@olemiss.edu.

    Thanks, Jacquie. And regards, Prof. G ;).

    University of Mississippi School of Law
    "A journal devoted to space law and the legal problems arising
    out of human activities in outer space."

    Volume 32 - Summer 2006 - Number 1
    C o n t e n t s

    F o r e w o r d
    Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz

    C a l l f o r P a p e r s

    A r t i c l e s

    A Competitive Environment in Outer Space
    P.P.C. Haanappel

    Asylum-Seekers In Outer Space, A Perspective On The Intersection Between Space Law And Immigration Law
    Marc M. Harrold

    Legal Issues Relating to the Global Public Interest in Outer Space
    Ram Jakhu

    Organizational Conflicts of Interest: A Practical Legal Issue in Implementing the Vision for Space Exploration A View from the Trenches
    Eve Lyon

    Transcending to a Space Civilization: The Next Three Steps Toward a Defining Constitution
    George S. Robinson

    The Status of the Outer Space Treaty at International Law During "War" and "Those Measures Short of War"
    LaToya Tate

    C a s e N o t e
    Defining Antitrust Injury in Government Launch Contracting: The Case of SpaceX v. Boeing
    Jared Eastlack

    C o m m e n t a r y
    The Vision for Space Exploration: Expanding the Envelope for Space Law Debates
    Marcia S. Smith

    B o o k R e v i e w
    Unreal Estate: The Men Who Sold the Moon
    By Virgiliu Pop
    Reviewed by James A. Vedda

    B i b l i o g r a p h y:
    Case Developments and Recent Publications
    Recent Space Law Cases and Publications
    Brandon Newman
    Law Review Articles
    Law Review Comments/Notes
    United States’ Pending Legislation and Regulation


    Orion by Lockheed

    Congratulations to Lockheed Martin on nailing the mega-billion dollar NASA deal to design and build the new US spaceship to fly to the moon and beyond....

    Here's some
    background from NASA on Lockheed's selection (over Northrop Grumman/Boeing) in "one of the most significant NASA procurements in more than 30 years...," (plus a neat little video); as well as more coverage of "Apollo on steroids"/Orion here (Alan Boyle, MSNBC), here (Brian Berger, Space.com), here (William Harwood, Spaceflight Now), here (NY Times) and media outlets everywhere.

    UPDATE: And here's today's announcement that
    Orbital will provide the launch abort system for Orion.

    ANOTHER UPDATE: Speaking of going to the moon, the European Space Agency's
    SMART-1 probe is on track for its controlled crash into the lunar surface this weekend. (Ouch. Turns out, getting there is not always the hardest part.)

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?