Friday Flybys - 6.29.07

(I tried. But I seriously could not resist swiping this hot image for the Flybys. Thank you PopSci.)

Yes, in light of all the buzz this week about Orbital Outfitters' new
xtreme sport idea, -- or, if you prefer, backup suborbital safety feature -- (if Rick Tumlinson and Jonathan Clark do it, we'll follow), maybe I should call this post Friday Divebys? Nah...

OK, before we space dive into the weekend...

  • High Court silent on space law: A flurry of opinions released this week mark the end of the US Supreme Court's term in which the Justices decided 68 cases and surprisingly, not a single one involved space law. Not even a footnote. (However, losing counsel for the respondent in the now notorious "Bong hits 4 Jesus" case, which my pal Bob Ambrogi over at Legal Blog Watch said "may well have been the most blogged case of the year," probably wish they had practiced space law instead.) Visit SCOTUS blog for a Supreme Court roundup.

  • Big companies and SBA contracts: The American Small Business League, (which won a FOIA court fight with NASA in February) now asserts (worries? charges? alleges?) that under the new Small Business Administration policy, "NASA can continue to include awards to firms such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin in their small business contracting statistics until the year 2012." Of course, we can wait and fact check this on GSA’s Federal Procurement Data System. Meanwhile, for an idea of how SBA addresses some of these concerns, see this May 11, 2007 fact sheet on the new re-certification policy which goes into effective June 30th. SBA says "large businesses taking contracts that have been set aside for small business isn’t a real factor" but admits to several scenarios that account for contracts to big companies being counted as small business contracts: small companies that get long-term contracts grow into big companies; large companies acquire small companies with long-term federal contracts; etc. And yes, "some contracting agencies enter their contract data into the federal database incorrectly as awards to small businesses." Really. For the record, this is not just about NASA and the aerospace industry. Clearly, folks were dropping the small business set aside ball. One wonders what took SBA so long to come up with this smart new re-certification policy? (And we'll watch to see how fast the federal procurement regulations are revised to reflect the new rules.)

  • Speaking of NASA, I trust everybody's been following the saga and latest NASA budget stuff on Space Politics and NASA Watch (and reading Shana Dale's blog, right?) so I won't link individual posts here.

  • Yes, while Shana communicates via her agency blog (which Mike Griffin doesn't read), NASA prepares to implement its new strategic communications plan. (Are we ready for "NASATube" and "NASApedia"?)

  • The International Law Association’s 2007 Regional Conference takes place at the University of South Africa in Pretoria, August 27-29, 2007. I did not note this in the hot summer space law dates roundup, but I'll quickly mention it here since the programme does include one panel related to space, with Prof. M. Hofmann of the University of Giessen, titled "Environmental criteria as a condition for space activities of non-state entities." (But I have no idea what that means.)

  • Virtual reality space lawyers: In The Space Review this week Jeff Foust reports that NASA Ames director Pete Worden (known in Second Life as the avatar "SimonPete Raymaker") says of virtual and collaborative space, "As we move forward, it just means that we have a job for a lot of lawyers." Remind your avatar to thank him. ;) (And what is Jeff Foust's avatar's name?)

  • Japanese space tourism insurance: $1M policy for $50k. (Hobbyspace)

  • Far side of the moon: It's not too early to book your cool $100 mil circumlunar mission with Space Adventures.

  • This is still not a space law case.

  • And if you find yourself held prisoner on JetBlue ("The airline that is afraid to fly") don't call a space lawyer. (However, the happy space diver pictured above may have some suggestions for you about what to do. ;)

  • Oh, and lest I forget:

    Big congratulations to Bigelow Aerospace on the Genesis II launch! To quote Mission Control in Las Vegas when it made contact with the spacecraft, “We got it!"

    To our friends north of the border, happy Canada Day, July 1, 2007.

    Finally, I'm not an almun but happy graduation from this Bronx girl to the hardworking kids at
    Bronx Aerospace High School.

    Have a great weekend, all. And unless you're really, really, really bored, don't watch any silly videos of
    people lined up outside the Apple store in NYC waiting to buy an iPhone. But if you do get an iPhone, call me.

    * * *
    IMAGE: Nick Kaloterakis via PopSci. Love this.


    Satellite Radio Idol

    If the proposed XM-Sirius deal were a reality TV show, it would be a hit.

    Earlier this week I noted reaction to the deal from a group of
    women's organizations. A few more examples this week: FamilyNet, which brings us Christian Talk on Sirius (channel 161), joined the large and growing line-up of those voicing their approval for the merger. And Americans for Tax Reform, and the 60 Plus Association, filed a joint comment with the FCC in support of the deal.

    And the list goes on and on. As Orbitcast, which has both ears tuned to the proposed combination says, "the hits just keep on coming."

    In fact, Sirius Buzz (a completely disinterested site of course) is keeping an "FCC comment scorecard," and according
    their tally (June 22): "nearly 2,600 comments have been filed, and over 2,000 of the comments are PRO Merger." And per this latest scorecard (June 27): "Daily percentages in favor of the merger were above 85% on a regular basis, and it was only this week that the volume of comments began to slow substantially." Looks like National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) members and others against the merger, who appear to be losing the comment war so far, could be picking up steam in the week before the comment period closes.

    I personally have not read thousands of comments. Go right over to the
    FCC's XM-Sirius transaction page (MB Docket No. 07-57) for comments, pro and con (which appear to be substantially fewer than thousands), and other documents posted by the Commission to date.

    Meanwhile, FCC has asked for even more comments. Yesterday the Commission released a
    Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking opinions on "whether to waive, modify or repeal the language prohibiting the combination of satellite radio providers in the Commission's 1997 Order establishing the Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service," in the event the Commission determines the proposed merger serves the public interest. (At issue is FCC's clear anti-merger language: "Even after DARS licenses are granted, one licensee will not be permitted to acquire control of the other remaining satellite DARS license. This prohibition on transfer of control will help assure sufficient continuing competition in the provision of satellite DARS service." Thus, the trick, if you're for the deal, is getting around this.

    Speaking for folks who staunchly favor upholding the rule, the
    American Antitrust Institute concluded in its June 5 comment, "As long as the firms are likely to be viable without the merger, and satellite radio is not a natural monopoly, there is no good reason for the Commission to abandon its policy of ensuring competition in the delivery of spectrum-based services in satellite DARS."

    As a matter of economics, if Professor Thomas Hazlett of George Mason University, former chief economist of the FCC were voting, he'd give the merger a thumbs up. His paper (apparently prepared for XM and Sirius) and filed with the Commission, titled
    "The Economics of the Satellite Radio Merger," concludes the deal "will predictably enhance consumer welfare" and the "improved economic vitality of a combined satellite radio company would drive industry innovation, promote competition and enhance programming and pricing options for customers."

    Others are pondering why this merger different from EchoStar/DirecTV which got voted off the merger island in 2002. The pro-merger League of Rural Voters files this short
    analysis, of why it thinks "the two transactions are fundamentally different." More realistically, as Jimmy Schaeffler on Multichannel News blog says, there are "many similarities -- and some notable differences" between the deals.

    If you'd rather not specifically respond to the NPRM, you still have time to file whatever comments you want. Everybody else appears to be doing so.

    (Where are Simon, Randy and Paula when we need them?)


    UPDATE - 6/29: More support -- the NAACP now endorces the proposed satellite radio combo. And another ol' FCC guy, former commissioner, Harold W. Furchtgott-Roth, weighs in for the companies with a pro-merger opinion. Still, don't turn up the Kelly Clarkson tunes yet...

    * * *
    IMAGE: Stephen Kroninger illustration courtesy of Newsweek


    Shana Blogs

    It's not your typical lawyer blawg (if there is such a thing) but yes, the lawyer who is NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale has a blog.

    (Shh... Don't tell NASA boss Mike Griffin. He doesn't read blogs.)

    I don't know if Shana takes comments, or posts images; the blog appears on a NASA intranet site for agency personnel only (InsideNASA). Posts are picked up by SpaceRef. (Of course Mike reads SpaceRef.) The Deputy says, "I am looking for a more direct way to communicate with people inside the agency. There is so much that goes on at headquarters and I want to be able to pull the curtain back on at least some of it and also explain what is going on with new initiatives." Good idea. (What about the rest of us?)

    In the first two posts, Shana shared details of her recent visits to Europe and Russia and reported, "our ISS partners are now in a position to begin serious discussions with NASA on opportunities for human and robotic exploration of the Moon, Mars and beyond." She also blogged about her efforts in connection with NASA’s budget situation and the FY 2008 appropriations for NASA (about which she is "extremely concerned"). And she posted an update regarding Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12).

    All this and she watches Food Network, too.

    And if Shana ever wants to try her hand at public blogging, she's always welcome as a guest here on SLP ;)

    * * *
    IMAGE: by Jeff Caplan via Nasa.gov; Ms. Dale "speaks during an all-hands meeting" in June 2006.


    Rohrabacher Wants NEO Hearing

    As everyone knows, those near earth objects can be quite the buzzkill. Or as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) more elegantly states it in a letter last week to his brethren in Congress, NEO's are "a significant threat to our planet." And he means starting with the "20,000 objects, each with the potential energy of 100 megatons of TNT or more," any one of which could, according to NASA's March 2007 report, upon colliding with the home rock, "cause a minimum of 50,000 fatalities."

    The Congressman finds our current tracking program which would only find 35 percent of those 100 megaton menaces, "woefully inadequate."

    And his Survey Act (or, the
    George E. Brown Jr. Near-Earth Object Survey Act, section 321 of the NASA Authorization Act of 2005, Public Law No. 109-155) would beef things up however, naturally, NASA says funds to implement the Survey appear to be lacking.

    Worse, NEO-tracking Arecibo Radio Telescope
    is set to be mothballed by 2011.

    Rep. Rohrabacher wants action.

    This is the June 20th
    letter sent by Rep. Rohrabacher to Rep. Mark Udall, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, requesting a hearing to look into this deep impact matter. (Via SpaceRef)

    Specifically, Rep. Rohrabacher asks that "the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee convene a hearing for the following purposes:

  • To review the status of the Spaceguard program in terms of its ability to meet the goals of the Survey Act,
  • To explore the impact the closing of Arecibo will have on current and future NEO programs,
  • To ascertain what other resources may be brought to bear to achieve the object of the Survey Act,
  • To determine future actions necessary to implement the Survey Act."

    I am all for whatever's gonna work. And let's face it,
    duck and cover just won't cut it.

    * * *
    IMAGE: Courtesy, space artist Don Davis.

    UPDATE: And for more on all this, here is the text of the
    white paper from the AIAA 2007 Planetray Defense Conference (held in March at George Washington University).

    ANOTHER UPDATE: Just in time to make Rohrabacher's point, BBC reports today that "scientists have identified a possible crater left by the biggest space impact in modern times - the Tunguska event." Yoweee. (Via Instapundit)

  • 6.25.2007

    Women for space radio merger

    Fans and other folks are obviously divided on the wisdom and legality of the proposed Sirius-XM satellite radio merger. As we've all heard, loud opposition comes from, among others, the National Association of Broadcasters, which has called on regulators to block the deal and sent the FCC an analysis it obtained from Crowell & Moring, an international law firm specializing in antitrust, characterizing the proposed merger as "clearly anticompetitive."

    And as I mentioned in the Flybys last Friday, two lawmakers have sent a
    letter to DOJ and FCC asking for help with some thorny antitrust questions in connection with the matter.

    But we might have missed the gender angle in this satellite radio affair. That is, until last week, when the
    National Coalition of Women's Organizations, "a nonpartisan, nonprofit coalition of more than 200 women's organizations across the nation collectively representing over eleven million women" called upon FCC to approve the merger.

    As NCWO Chair Susan Scanlan reasons, "Today, satellite radio is a mere 3.4 percent of the overall radio market --a market dominated by men. A stronger satellite offering can increase the audience for satellite radio. A more affordable and more diverse satellite radio market would be valuable not only to our members, but also to women across the United States."

    (So it ain't just Howard Stern's strippers?)

    Stay tuned, as we say. The off-air maneuvering can be more interesting than some of the radio programming itself. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen how much the antitrust regulators take all this into consideration in deciding whether one satellite radio company is better than two.

    * * *
    IMAGE: Oprah Winfrey and Hugh Panero, CEO of XM Satellite Radio, ring the NASDAQ opening bell to celebrate the debut of the "Oprah & Friends" channel, September 25, 2006. Courtesy NASDAQ.


    Friday Flybys - 6.22.07

    Go ahead, have a slice of this yummy cake. As EADS Astrium chief executive Francois Auque said, "Space tourism is the cherry on the cake." Also, this week marks the third anniversary of Scaled Composites' SpaceShipOne nailing the world's first private human spaceflight (June 21, 2004). Sweet.

    Now, the Flybys...

  • Rocketing through regulations: Paul Breed at Unreasonable Rockets has good news from FAA on the status of his permit application review. Looks like he's right on track for the Lunar Landing Challenge. And Paul's sharing his paperwork and experiences in connection with FAA's experimental permit process is unique to blogspace and very much appreciated here on SLP. (Naturally, lawyers are standing by like the Maytag repairman in case Paul needs help. ;)

  • Policy space: If you missed the panel hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Space Enterprise Council, "The New European Space Policy" (June 15th), CSIS has posted the presentation by John Logsdon of George Washington University's Space Policy Institute, comparing US and Euro space policy (which he subtitles, "One Aimed at Maintaining U.S. Superiority - The Other Aimed at Achieving European Aspirations" -- interesting).

  • Space radio: For folks following the Sirius-XM satellite radio deal, on June 13th, House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-MI) and Steve Chabot (R-OH), ranking member of the Judiciary Antitrust Taskforce, sent a nice letter to DOJ and FCC asking if the original FCC order in connection with the satellite radio companies' licenses prevent the two from merging, and wondering if "circumstances today are similar or different?" Good questions. The lawmakers also asked about "evidence the agency looks for when defining a 'relevant' market as part of its antitrust scrutiny." That is the big antitrust issue. And Conyers and Chabot recall the 2002 unsuccessful DirecTV/EchoStar merger, wherein FCC ruled the deal was "inconsistent with the Commission's long-standing policy of not permitting one entity to control all of the spectrum for a particular service." Don't touch that dial. (Via Orbitcast blog: "All things satellite radio")

  • More regulation issues for satellite deals: Owen Kurtin looks at how "Rejection Of AsiaSat Deal Highlights Commercial Impact Of Export Control" (Via Satellite, July 1, 2007)

  • Also in orbit -- trouble with NEOs: NASA's near earth object study for Congress (March 2007) continues to vex former astronaut Russell Schweickart and other concerned possible NEO victims. David Leonard blogs about a June 18th meeting over this at NASA headquarters, along with comments he received from asteroid specialist Clark Chapman. (LiveScience.com) (Actually, at this point in Earth's history we're all NEO survivors, aren't we?)

  • Speaking of NASA, when Shana Dale, lawyer and NASA number two chief (in that order) speaks, SLP links. Even if at the Colorado Space Coalition Biannual Congressional and Industry Roundtable, Ms. Dale was, as Keith Cowing termed it, "preaching to the choir." (NASA Watch)

  • If you missed it (and I almost did) here is Futron along with Hannover Fairs on the results of their annual satellite industry survey (conducted during ISCe 2007) which found, inter alia, government agencies represented more than half of new satellite business in 2006. I am not sure how surprising this should be.

  • Hal Fulton's The Space Activist's Handbook (just out June 4, 2007) looks like invigorating beach reading.

  • Election space: Never mind the war, foreign policy, the economy, healthcare, education and other hot button issues, what about the candidates positions on space? (Donald A. Beattie, The Space Review.) And as to the space views of a few non-candidates (well, so far) -- yes, Gore and Gingrich -- Jeff Foust has this.

  • Ferris Valyn now organizes his big roundup, Space Revolution Weekly News with "Space Law Minutiae" as section 4. Our kind of revolution. (Although yes, section 1 might have been better. ;)

  • Lapdogs or watchdogs? Some in Congress, including Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.), are criticising the inspector general corps, and pointing to NASA's Robert Cobb, who of course remains under investigation by the House Science and Technology Committee: Inspecting the Inspectors (Washington Post).

  • Dissing a White House space summit: Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) is peeved. (Via SpaceRef)

  • The latest issue of From the Ground Up, the newsletter from the space money folks at Near Earth LLC (May 2007).

  • Congrats again to all on the three new Space Act deals.

  • George Whitesides & Virgin Galactic: another great match.

  • I agree with Clark, "maybe it is as expensive as a Pyramid and half as useful but I still find the ISS to be a wonderful thing to behold."

  • Speaking of which, welcome home, Atlantis.

    Have a super weekend everyone. Avoid deep impacts. If you're on Cosmic Log and crash into
    antimatter or fall into an existing black hole, don't call a space lawyer.

    And hey, have some
    Beam Me Up coffee with your cake! ;) (Via Hobbypace)

  • 6.21.2007

    Hot Summer Space Law Dates

    While you're planning, enjoying and recovering from your summer weekends, vacations and getaways (and I realize this applies only to SLP readers in the Northern hemisphere), here are a few dates in space law (and related biz) to fit into your calendar for the next few months. You know, in between boating, biking, hiking, surfing, swimming, sunning, fishing, lounging, etc., etc. (What no blogging?) And please, don't let me interrupt.

    First, a few events ongoing as I post:

  • Flight School 07 June 20-22, 2007 Aspen Institute, Aspen, Colorado -- "Esther Dyson's third annual workshop for start-ups and investors in the emerging markets for private air and commercial space travel." Wish I was there. (Regards from SLP to Esther Dyson and her high-powered friends gathered in Aspen.)

  • Washington Space Business Roundtable, (if you're in the neighborhood today) June 21, 2007, "Expendable Launch Vehicles (ELV): Evolution, Modernization, Opportunities, and Competition" Speaker: Daniel J. Collins, COO United Launch Alliance (ULA)

    And then...

  • International Conference on Air Transport and Space Activities, June 24-27, 2007, Beijing, China; hosted by the Institute of Air and Space Law, Faculty of International Law, China University of Political Science and Law. (I don't see a website for this, however globe-trotting Prof. Joanne Gabrynowicz is an invited "distinguished speaker," -- send her a note, I'm sure she'd happily supply additional info: spacelaw@olemiss.edu.) (Tell her 你好 from SLP!)

  • 6th European Space Policy Workshop June 26, 2007, Interdisciplinary Centre for Space Studies at KU Leuven, Belgium.

  • NewSpace 2007 July 18-21, 2007, Washington, DC. Way cool.

    And of course September (at least part of it) is still in summer (at least in the northern hemisphere) . . .

  • 16th ECSL Summer Course on Space Law and Policy September 3-14, 2007, Noordwijk, The Netherlands.
    My kind of summer school.

  • SPACE 2007 Sept. 18-20, 2007 Long Beach, California; not just law, but includes policy panels, a session on space law chaired by Mark Simonoff of the State Department and lots more.

  • Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition -- 2007 World Finals (Emeralda v Mazonia) Sept. 28, 2007; the world semi-finals and world finals, judged by three sitting members of the International Court of Justice, will take place at the International Institute of Space Law's annual colloquium at the 58th International Astronautical Congress, in Hyderabad, India. Good luck, everyone!

    And if we dare contemplate the inevitability of October . . .

  • ABA Forum on Air & Space Law Annual Meeting & Program, October 3–5, 2007, Peabody Hotel, Memphis, Tennessee (and this is the forum's second big get-together scheduled for 2007, following the Washington, DC gathering in February). I'll link agenda and speaker info when all that becomes available.

  • Civil Society and Outer Space Forum 2007, Oct. 8-9, 2007, Vienna, Austria, organized by the Conference of Non-governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CONGO). A little civility goes a long way.

  • Space Generation Congress 2007, Sept 20-22, 2007, Hyderabad, India. Young spacefarers unite. ;)

  • Third International Symposium for Personal Spaceflight (ISPS 2007), Oct. 24-25, 2007, Las Cruces, New Mexico. Much more than just the X PRIZE Cup kickoff.

  • Wirefly X PRIZE CUP '07 and Holloman Air & Space Expo, October 26-28, 2007, Alamogordo, New Mexico. Yeeha. For space cowboys and everyone.

    And much more to come.

    As always, update me with anything I should add, and more dates or announcements you'd like to see posted on SLP.

    For now, happy
    summer solstice 6/21/07, 18:06 GMT ;).
    * * *
  • IMAGE: Coney Island Boardwalk, Coney Island, Brooklyn, May 28, 2006, 5:34 p.m., courtesy Bridge and Tunnel Club


    New Space Act deals

    The latest on government cooperation with the commercial space transportation sector -- this club is getting bigger: NASA announced yesterday it has signed three new Space Act agreements with Constellation Services International, SpaceDev and SPACEHAB under which "NASA will share information that will help the companies understand projected requirements for International Space Station crew and cargo transportation launch vehicles, as well as spacecraft and NASA human rating criteria." Or if you prefer, here's the spin on the deals by SpaceDev (via Yahoo), SPACEHAB (via itself) and CSI (via HobbySpace). And for more background, here's a report from Space News (via Space.com).

    Earlier this year NASA signed similar
    agreements with t/Space and PlanetSpace.

    Congrats, all.

    (Of course, unlike the approximately $500 million in
    COTS awards to SpaceX and Rocketplane Kistler announced last summer, these agreements are unfunded, or to use the Space Act terminology, "nonreimbursable." As we know from reading the Space Act Agreements guide -- and who hasn't read this? -- "nonreimbursable" agreements cover "NASA and one or more Agreement Partners in a mutually beneficial activity that furthers the Agency's missions, wherein each party bears the cost of its participation and there is no exchange of funds between the parties. Since Nonreimbursable Agreements involve the commitment of NASA resources, the respective contributions of each Agreement Partner must be fair and reasonable under the circumstances." And this blog is not Space Accounting Probe but yes, NASA is required to come up with the "cost estimate of the value of the NASA resources to be committed" under these agreements; if you are interested in these estimates, ask NASA.)


    Friday Flybys - 6.15.07

    Another fine and fair summer weekend is upon us. But first...

  • More in the series, "government lawyers gone wild": while Attorney General Gonzales reviews a letter from Congressmen Sensenbrenner and Miller in which the very miffed lawmakers ask DOJ to conduct a criminal investigation of NASA General Counsel Michael Wholley, for possible "obstruction of justice and destruction of government records under 18 U.S.C. § 1505, 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c) and 18 § U.S.C. 2071," we can all brush up on the CDs of agency meetings as "popcorn" defense. (I must have missed that day in law school.) Of course, this mess all started with the investigation into certain actions of NASA IG Robert Cobb. Jeff Foust reports there were no gotcha moments last week during a joint House-Senate hearing about the Cobb investigation. And I gather no CD's of that hearing were destroyed.

  • Via two of our favorite rocket blogs -- yes, Dick's Rocket Dungeon and Rocketry Planet -- here is the FAA's newly-released proposed rulemaking to update regulations covering hobby rocket activities (Docket No. FAA–2007–27310). If Dick Stafford likes 'em, so do we. Take the summer and read the NPRM between launches. Comments are due by Sept. 12, 2007.

  • This blog is not Space Labor Probe, but a quick a note on the United Space Alliance strike: sounding like NYC taxi cab drivers, the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers walked off their jobs yesterday after "USA management proposed what the union considered to be a substandard contract offer." And here is the company's statement. The good news: the picket line will not obstruct space shuttle Atlantis' landing June 21st.

  • More Euro space policy: In addition to today's CSIS panel on "The New European Space Policy" which Jeff Foust noted here, the Interdisciplinary Centre for Space Studies at KU Leuven in Belgium is hosting the 6th European Space Policy Workshop, June 26, 2007 (which may also be podcast). Thanks and hi to Batist Paklons at the Centre.

  • A few summer reading picks: this blog is not Space War Probe but the latest issue of of the Air Force Command's High Frontier ("The Journal for Space & Missile Professionals") is devoted to space innovation, and includes, among other notewothy items, an article by Elon Musk on "Space Superiority in the 21st Century." (May 2007.) Also, the March issue also has some interesting articles, including "The Importance of Space Commerce to National Power," by General Kevin P. Chilton, "Space Policy Human Space Flight and National Power" by Dr. John M. Logsdon, and "The Moon is a Land without Sovereignty: Will it be a Business-Friendly Environment?" by Dr. Henry R. Hertzfeld. Download for the beach.

  • Meanwhile in Japan: Japan Times Online reports "at a meeting in Tokyo of their project team on space law" the ruling coalition agreed to draft "a bill allowing military use of space space solely for purposes of defense" and submit it to the current Diet session. (And for a bit of background, see this SLP post.)

  • Over at Space Politics Jeff has posted the Space Exploration Alliance's (SEA) report on its 2007 Moon-Mars Blitz which took place this week in Washington.

  • New Mexico preservation groups v. Spaceport America? (Hat tip, Dick Stafford.)

  • Proceedings are available from the Satellite 2007 conference (with your credit card) including the session "The ITAR and COMSATs: Where Are We Today, and Where Might We Go. That's if thinking about ITAR doesn't ruin an otherwise perfectly good summer afternoon for you.

  • Owen Kurtin's May column in Via Satellite, "Will Galileo become Spacebus?" (good question) is online here (click on page 46). And yes it's true, Owen has left Brown Raysman -- which is now Thelen Reid -- and has moved over to Dickstein Shapiro LLP in New York.

  • Pamela Gay is the ringmaster for Carnival of Space #7 at her Star Stryder blog.

  • Wonders never do cease: In response to my post on the Chinese space policy treatise on sale at Wal-mart, a reader sends in this. (New York Magazine)

  • If your space law office needs a receptionist, and you can afford $1,000 a day, hire one of these people-friendly wakamaru robots. They never call in sick.

  • If you really must bring a $54 million lawsuit against a dry cleaner for losing your pants, don't call a space lawyer.

  • Finally, if your baby monitor picks up NASA's live shuttle video, you don't need a space lawyer, but call Auntie Jesse to watch the kids while you enjoy the show.

    Have a great weekend. And if you want to impress your BBQ guests, or educate them, here's how to
    calculate pi by throwing frozen hotdogs. (Improbable Research, via Cosmic Log.) (As a semi-recovering vegetarian I wonder if Alan can tell me if this also works with frozen tofu dogs?)
    * * *

    IMAGE: That's a postcard of my summer vacation. (In my dreams.) Courtesy EADS Astrium.

  • 6.12.2007

    Taikonaut talks space law

    CNN and other news outlets have picked up a Reuters story, apparently via China News Service, covering Yang Liwei, China's first person in space (you remember his historic mission back in 2003), telling "an audience of university students over the weekend," that China is drafting new space laws to "address how to 'effectively protect the space environment, reduce or eradicate fragments in space and expand international cooperation.'"

    This should be interesting. Looking forward to details.

    (Of course, new space law aside, for nations worried about the space environment and those pesky "fragments," not blowing up old weather satellites in orbit might be a good way to start.)

    Vignettes from Vienna

    (That's Vienna, Austria, home of UNOV -- the United Nations Office at Vienna -- not Vienna, Virgina, headquarters of Space Adventures...)
    While the
    50th session of the UN's Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) goes on in Vienna this week (June 6th to 15th; more on that later), COPUOS has now posted the report of the 46th session of its Legal Subcommittee, (which as you recall took place at UNOV March 26th to April 5th).

    If you were holding your breath waiting for this 35-page report (and who wasn't?) (actually, the English version is 35 pages; I did not open the Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian or Spanish documents), a quickie recap highlighting issues and topics addressed this session (some old, some new; none borrowed or blue):

  • The five United Nations space treaties:
    -- Here is this year's overview,
    Status of International Agreements relating to Activities in Outer Space. (No surprises; I may post separately a few details from this.)

  • Activities of international intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations relating to space law:
    -- Action packed
    report (with addendum) on recent work of friends of the Subcommittee including the Space Law Committee of the International Law Association, International Institute of Space Law (IISL) and the European Centre for Space Law (ECSL), (covering a lot of stuff we've talked about here on SLP).
    -- As I've posted, the well-received symposium on
    Capacity building in space law took place during this session, sponsored by the IISL and ECSL.
    --The Subcommittee was treated to a presentation entitled “WIPO: patents and space activities” by Tomoko Miyamoto of the World Intellectual Property Organization which is not posted; I'll try to get a copy.

  • Definition and delimitation of outer space and use of the geostationary orbit:
    -- Big news! Issue about where space begins is resolved, finally! Not. This will be on the agenda until the 5,946th session. (One theory is the Neanderthal went extinct debating it.)
    -- See, Report of the Chairman of the Working Group on the Definition and Delimitation of Outer Space at Annex II, p. 27.

  • Draft protocol on matters specific to space assets to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment:
    -- Subcommittee received a "comprehensive" status report from the observer for Unidroit. Work continues.
    -- For more background on the work on the draft protocol, see this
    SLP post.

  • Registration of space objects:
    -- Proposal for "a General Assembly resolution on recommendations on the practice of States and international organizations in registering space objects, to be adopted in 2007;" see the
    working paper of the Working Group on the Practice of States and International Organizations in Registering Space Objects for text of the proposal (which COPUOS is no doubt reviewing as I post).
    -- In 2006, national registries of space objects established by Brazil, Indonesia and Kazakhstan, which registered its first communication satellite, KazSat, under the Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space.
    -- I will add stats we've seen on registration of space objects show clearly, as the International Law Association's Space Law Committee notes, registration of objects launched into space has been
    going downhill. (2006 Toronto conference report.)

  • Review and possible revision of the Principles Relevant to the Use of Nuclear Power Sources in Outer Space:
    -- Subcommittee "will continue examining the issue" (of course)
    -- For more on these discussions, see verbatim transcripts at COPUOS/Legal/T.756-758 (which do not yet but will appear on the
    transcripts archive).

  • New items to be considered by the Legal Subcommittee:
    -- My favorite, the Subcommittee agreed to include “General exchange of information on national legislation relevant to the peaceful exploration and use of outer space proposed by the United States," starting in 2008.
    -- The Subcommittee also agreed to invite IISL and ECSL to host a symposium at the next session on "Legal Implications of Space Applications for Global Climate Change." Looking forward to it.
    -- Surprisingly, no specific ironclad proposal to amend, revise, renegotiate, undo, abandon or eliminate the Outer Space Treaty.

  • The Legal Subcommittee meets again in Vienna, March 2008.

    Oh, and yes, of course. The Subcommittee called 2007 "a memorable year for the Committee and the space community, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the launching of the first artificial satellite, the fiftieth session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and the fortieth anniversary of the adoption of the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (General Assembly resolution 2222 (XXI), annex)." It said "in the 40 years since the adoption of the Outer Space Treaty, space activities had become indispensable for sustainable development, contributing to economic growth and improvements in the quality of life around the world."


    Thanks to Kurian Maniyanipurathu of the Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA), Space Applications Section for the heads-up on the Legal Subcommittee report.


    Space lawyer = Cool Career!

    It's official! According the the authoritative, Wall Street Journal bestseller, Cool Careers for Dummies," (3rd edition, 2007), a cool career for the 21st century is, that's right -- space lawyer.

    Cool Careers author Dr. Marty Nemko explains:
    As more and more government and commercial satellites orbit Earth, disputes arise. Does a country have the right to launch a surveillance satellite that circles the globe? Who owns which rights to the moon? They're already selling tickets for commercial space flights. What sorts of contracts are needed to protect the spacelines and their passengers? Space law is, as they used to say in the 1960's, a new frontier.


    Of course, other more established law specialties like tax lawyer, bankruptcy lawyer, elder lawyer, environmental lawyer and intellectual property lawyer make the cool list, too. But a few years ago space lawyer would never have appeared alongside those other practice areas other than as a joke. Now? Seriously cool.

    And anyone can become a space lawyer. Don't think of it as just some fallback position for a guy or gal who can't hack it as a bounty hunter, proteomics biologist, volcanologist, wireless device or virtual reality programmer, holographer, heart-lung perfusionist, high-security diving instructor, robotic engineer, silviculturist, beer brewer or funeral director.

    Thank you Dr. Nemko. (And by the way, guess which online site appears in the book as the single reference for space law information. Go ahead, guess. (See page 120.) (Marty, can I mail you a check or do you take PayPal? ;)


    Chinese Space Policy at Wal-mart

    Today while over at Wal-mart.com, looking for things that, I'll readily admit, have nothing at all to do with space law, or anything even remotely related thereto, (hey, it's summer) I stumbled upon this interesting item -- the textbook, Chinese Space Policy: A Study in Domestic and International Politics (2006) by political scientists Roger Handberg and Zhen Li; $115.00 (that's dollars, not Yen).

    (Who knew such a treatise would be available from Wal-mart? I must admit, like many New Yorkers, I have never actually been in a Wal-mart. I know it sounds amazing, since each week one-third of the US population visits the world's largest retailer. Really, we are no different from other Americans who, you know, occasionally shop. But we just don't have Wal-marts in Manhattan. This was my first time at Wal-mart.com, too. An eye opener.)

    By the way, Chinese Space Policy is of course available on
    Amazon, but for five dollars more. (Ditto the book's publisher.) I do note that Wal-mart, unlike Amazon, has the title correct.

    If you prefer a review before you buy this expensive treatise, check out the write-up by Dr. Rick W. Sturdevant, deputy command historian at Air Force Space Command, who has, assuredly, read more Chinese space policy books than me. He

    Handberg and Li use their analytical model to assess China’s space future. They find China’s recently demonstrated ability to keep its space-faring aspirations aligned with politically available resources both fascinating and praiseworthy. Nonetheless, the direction and success of their space program depends on how the Chinese address four issues: achieving sufficient political stability to ensure continuity in space policy; their stance toward international cooperation; transitioning from a government-dominated to a mixed program; and military space activities. For seasoned space professionals, government officials, academicians, and curious students alike, Chinese Space Policy offers substantial insight to that country’s space-related motivations and actions. (High Frontier, May 2007 at page 69)

    More SLP summer reading to follow. Now if you'll excuse me, I have more shopping to do.


    New COMSTAC stuff

    If you're into viewing PowerPoints online... FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation has posted a compilation of presentations from the May 2007 COMSTAC meetings. (Mostly PowerPoints, as usual; too bad we don't have video of this stuff.)

    A few selections:

    Ken Wong of FAA/AST licensing and safety division gave an update of the human space flight
    study required by Congress (due Dec 23, 2008).

    Personal Spaceflight Federation's overview (by Brett Alexander, John Gedmark) included a section "What needs to be accomplished: Draft standard waiver and release of claims ... Pursue adoption of state legislation limiting liability" and also has a slide on the landmark Virginia law adopted this year.

    Mark Timm of NASA gave a
    COTS program overview.

    Other presentations cover market forecasts, X Prize Cup, ULA, Space Florida, Spaceport America, ISS resupply, training for commercil spaceflight, lots more. Dig in.

    And minutes mavens, look for the COMSTAC meeting minutes on the minutes archive
    here. (Although at the moment the most recent posting is from the Oct. 2006 meetings, but that should be updated soon.)


    14 space agencies

    Hot news from the international government space sector: the lastest release out of the global exploration strategy discussions between NASA and 13 of the world's space agencies -- CSIRO (Australia), CSA (Canada), CNSA (China), ESA (European Space Agency), CNES (France), DLR (Germany), ASI (Italy), ISRO (India), JAXA (Japan), KARI (Republic of Korea), RKA (Russia), NSAU (Ukraine), BNSC (United Kingdom) -- it's the Global Exploration Strategy: The Framework for Coordination.

    This non-binding Framework (released at the 3rd ASI/ESA International Co-operation for Sustainable Space Exploration Workshop which met this week in Sarteano, Italy) is not a treaty, and "does not propose a single global programme."

    And as
    NASA specifies, "its contents are consistent with ongoing bilateral and multilateral discussions that NASA intends to lead to cooperative agreements for specific projects."

    The Framework, "presents a vision for robotic and human space exploration, focussing on destinations within the solar system where we may one day live and work. It elaborates an action plan to share the strategies and efforts of individual nations so that all can achieve their exploration goals more effectively and safely."

    And it "allows for the establishment of a voluntary, non-binding mechanism by which space agencies can exchange information on their respective space exploration plans. This coordination mechanism will play a key role in helping to identify gaps, overlaps and synergies in the space exploration plans of participating agencies."

    The space agencies "have agreed to pursue the establishment of a formal Coordination Mechanism for the coordination of the Global Exploration Strategy. The specific terms of reference for such a mechanism are being defined and will be described in a separate document."

    As to international space law, the Framework lists this as one of the "potential areas and activities that could benefit from coordination": "an assessment of the requirement for any relevant international legal agreements." This should be interesting.

    Also, under the "Theme 3: Economic Expansion," the Framework states, "For business to be confident about investing, it needs the certainty of a long-term commitment to space exploration, the opportunity to introduce its ideas into government thinking, and the rule of law. This means common understanding on such difficult issues as property rights and technology transfer. The Coordination Mechanism foreseen as part of the Global Exploration Strategy will provide a forum to discuss these important issues." We'll certainly keep on eye on this.

    By the way, if you are just tuning in, for background on the Global Exploration Strategy, review NASA's
    FAQ, and visit the main exploration site.

    While many (and I'll quote
    Clark here) "strongly disagree with the hardware architecture that Griffin has chosen for initiating NASA's implementation of this strategy," there's definitely stuff here to interest space enthusiasts and global space business.

    And yes, of course we have more than 14
    space agencies in the world. (Actually, disregard that old SLP link, here is a newer and better list of the space agencies.)

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