More than Air at ABA

As I've noted, the ABA's so-called Forum on Air & Space Law has always exhibited shall we say a slant toward (yes, some might call it a fetish for,) air law. Sure, for lawyers with their heads in the clouds, there was no higher ground to cover in the 20th century than airplanes, airports, aviation business and all that. But the 20th century's over. Going forward, we should expect the Forum on Air & Space Law to get seriously in touch with its space side.

For 2007, the forum has scheduled two one-day "update conferences," and the first is happening this Thursday, February 1, 2007 at the Washington, DC, Mayflower Hotel. The topic: Winds of Change: Cleared for Takeoff? (You see what I'm talking about. And they have yet to run out of aviation metaphors.)

But yes, putting the space in the otherwise aviation-focused Forum meetup will be at least this panel: "The Law and Policy of Public and Private Space Ventures," which the event's brochure describes thusly: "Commercial interest in space, whether for satellites, passenger transport, or exploration, has increased exponentially in recent years. And the Administration's Vision for Space Exploration seeks to encourage and leverage that interest. However, navigating the difficult funding, intellectual property, jurisdictional, and national defense issues associated with commercial interests in space can be quite tricky. This panel of experts will identify the legal and policy issues at stake, and provide invaluable insight into the future of space ventures."

Indeed, moderating this sole but notworthy space segment will be space law veteran Franceska O. Schroeder of Fish & Richardson P.C., with speakers Patricia Grace Smith, chief of FAA/AST, and Michael Wholley, general counsel of NASA. Now we're talking.

And, oh yes, delivering the opening keynote will be none other than Rep. James L. Oberstar (D-MN), chairman of the
House Transportation Committee who is no stranger to federal space law (and has in prior sessions of Congress proposed some related legislation of his own). I'll post the congressman's comments here if available.

Another Forum on Air & Space Law update conference will take place October 3, 2007 in Memphis, Tennessee at the Peabody Hotel. (Expect much of the same lopsided air law to space law ratio. But perhaps by then somebody will have reminded the forum that 2007 is the 50th anniversary of the space age?)

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Image: The Wright brothers (pictured here without their lawyers).

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