Cleaning up space debris standards

The new edition of NASA's Orbital Debris Quarterly News (Oct. 2007) is chock full of space trash insights and developments, mostly from a technical perspective. Space junk junkies, dig in.

On the policy side, the report includes an overview of the two changes issued in August by the space agency to update its own requirements and standards for mitigating orbital debris.

And I don't mind sharing that overview here on squeaky clean SLP:

New NASA Procedural Requirement and Technical Standard for Limiting Orbital Debris Generation

On 17 August 2007, NASA’s Chief Safety and Mission Assurance Officer, Bryan O’Connor, signed
NASA Procedural Requirements(NPR)8715.6, the latest revision in NASA’s 15-year-old policy designed to curtail the growth of the orbital debris population. On 28 August 2007, the NASA Technical Standard (NS) 8719.14 was also signed by Bryan O’Connor, updating the aging NASA Safety Standard 1740.14, Guidelines and Assessment Procedures for Limiting Orbital Debris, issued in 1995.

NPR 8715.6 recognizes the ongoing importance of orbital debris mitigation, both nationally and internationally, and a need to expand the responsibilities of various organizations within NASA. Fourteen organizations or positions within NASA are now assigned explicit orbital debris mitigation duties by the NPR, in contrast to only ten organizations or positions cited in the previous NASA Policy Directive (NPD 8710.3B), and only four in the policy before that one.

The NPR provides requirements to implement NASA’s policy for limiting orbital debris generation per the
U.S. National Space Policy of 2006, Section 11. In conjunction with the related NASA standard, the NPR is consistent with the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines, as well as Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines.

As outlined in section 1.3.11 of the NPR, the
NASA Orbital Debris Program Office shall:
1. Develop, maintain, and update the orbital debris environment models to support this NPR.
2. Assist NASA mission program/project managers in technical orbital debris assessments.
3. Provide assistance to the Department of Defense and other U.S. Government departments and organizations on matters related to the characterization of the orbital debris environment and the application of orbital debris mitigation measures and policies for NASA space missions.
4. Participate in the determination, adoption, and use of international orbital debris mitigation guidelines through international forums such as the UNCOPUOS, the IADC, and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
5. Maintain a list of predicted reentry dates for NASA spacecraft and their associated orbital stages and notify the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance at least 60 days prior to their reentry.
Approved by NASA Headquarters and NASA Centers, NS 8719.14 provides uniform engineering and technical requirements for processes, procedures, practices, and methods for NASA programs and projects to adhere to orbital debris requirements.

NS 8719.14 requires NASA projects to assess compliance in the following areas:
1. Debris Released During Normal Operations
2. Debris Released by Explosions and Intentional Breakups
3. Debris Generated by On-Orbit Collisions
4. Postmission Disposal of Space Structures
5. Survival of Debris from the Postmission Disposal Atmospheric Reentry Option
6. Tether Missions

The Standard reflects significant improvements in both the technical foundation of the standard and assessment process, as well as addressing new areas of debris mitigation, such as tethers, the Moon, Mars, and Lagrange points. Where appropriate, minor changes were incorporated to ensure that the Standard is consistent with the latest national and international orbital debris mitigation guidelines.


The moon this time

In addition to making space history and global headlines, last week's liftoff of Chang'e I, China's first moon probe, relaunched the older than moon rocks debate about human intentions and lunar resources.

For example, linked on Instapundit today we find Andrew Smith's Guardian piece in which the writer voices a not uncommonly held view that the new space race differs from the first in that it ain't about science or discovery, but rather, "plundering the moon."

Amid the talk of helium-3 there's little legal discussion, however for that we can pick from a wealth of law commentary, from decades to minutes old, addressing aspects of the complex legal issues concerning lunar resources. I'll be posting more of those; and for now, Prof. Glenn Reynolds, who lamented on his aforementioned blog "the defeatist, anti-humanity tone of many of the comments" to Smith's piece, and suggests that "private property rights are likely to be both more environmentally friendly and more wealth-creating than centralized regulatory schemes," offers a well-seasoned but still insightful article he wrote with Robert P. Merges, on Space Resources, Common Property, and the Collective Action Problem (New York University Environmental Law Journal, 1997).

In it, Glenn (who has been writing, teaching and thinking about this stuff way longer than he's been doing that little blog thing he does) and his co-author conclude:

The waning of enthusiasm for common heritage schemes in the space context poses a challenge for space law, and for space development enthusiasts: the challenge of coming up with something that addresses the most important concerns motivating "common heritage" proposals without embodying the statist and anti-market character that such proposals tend to share. Properly crafted, property rights approaches are likely to be lower in cost, and better at protecting the environment, than are centralized bureaucratic regimes. We have suggested some considerations involved in applying property rights to space resource development. We hope that others will join in the conversation.

Many have. And I second that excellent invitation. (And if you would like to share a rebuttal to the article, or offer related thoughts or writings -- for or against moon "plundering"? -- don't hesitate to forward to me for linking or plund-- I mean, posting.)

The conversation continues.

* * *

UPDATE: By the way, yes, you will find among the materials presented at this month's gathering of FAA's Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC), a powerpoint on China's Space Activities (especially for those who can't get enough COMSTAC PowerPoints, and who can?) (Hat tip HobbySpace.)


New Mexican and Other Flybys - 10.29.07

Not for full-fledged, hardcore, xtreme members of our NewSpace era only: if you missed the space scene out at Las Cruces and Holloman Air Force Base last week and over the weekend, there's always blogspace for catching up. Thanks to Alan Boyle, Clark Lindsey, Rand Simberg, Jeff Foust and everyone who live blogged the action from the International Symposium for Personal Spaceflight and the far out X Prize Cup.

Scroll through dispatches from the commercial space frontier for recaps and multimedia of the Lunar Lander Challenge, (I like the positive spin in the event's press release: Armadillo missed by only
seven seconds. Next year they win), along with payloads of news from New Mexico including Rocketplane Global's unveiling of the reshaped, roomier and beefier XP suborbital spaceplane, Orbital Outfitters voguing of the first commercial spacesuit (strike a space pose; and I might know a few subway riders who'd like to wear it for their commute to the office), Rocket Racing League's announcement of new teams, and lots more.

A few additional highlights:

  • Space Angels Network: check out the newly launched an online venue to hook up individual investors with space entrepreneurs. The managing angel, Guillermo Söhnlein is a lawyer (or I should say, he is a JD). And I note top law firm Morrison & Foerster is listed as a sponsor/partner of the venture. Some angels prefer rockets to wings.

  • Big shots: Brian Berger reports on the XPC's invitation-only executive summit hosted by Esther Dyson. (And I see Christopher Stott of the space-friendly, tax-averse Isle of Man had a few things to say about governments as customers: "They are incredibly risky. They pay late, if they pay at all. They cancel contracts on you. They have clauses about Congress changing its mind once a year. Politics intervenes and you investment disappears." Hi, Chris. ;)

  • OK, it's Teachers in Space not Lawyers in Space. But maybe someday....

    Overall, looks like the exposition and events in New Mexico promoted commercial space business, education, and frolicking all around. 'Til next year. (Regards to Governor and presidential hopeful Richardson.)

    For now, a quick handful of other assorted Flybys:

  • Forecast space: Futron has released its 2007 Forecast of Global Satellite Demand. And here's the executive summary. There's no section forecasting demand for satellite lawyers. Extrapolate that yourself.

  • Defending the Treaty: Finally, after all the recent treaty slamming, someone defends the OST, no holds barred, even if she has to launch a new blog to do it. Congrats again to Joanne and the NCRSASL on Res Communis, a University of Mississippi blog covering aerospace which does include air law but we can overlook that. Great job, PJ and everyone.

  • Greetings to those gathered at the conference, Risk & Exploration: Earth as a Classroom, - Oct. 28-30, at Louisiana State University. Space lawyer Art Dula will participate in the session tomorrow on, "Risk & Commercial Space Exploration" (2:00-5:00pm) and we can tune in for a live webcast.

  • Clark reports: "Looks like the PlanetSpace deal with Lockheed Martin and the Canadian government is going nowhere."

  • Who among us can't use: An Attorney's Guide to Space Travel - Sonia E. Miller (Sept. 19, 2007; New York Law Journal but subscription is unfortunately required, and although I used to work at American Lawyer Media which owns the NYLJ and lots of other stuff, don't ask me to post my little essay, "An Attorney's Guide to Hacking Subscription Sites". You're on your own.)

  • Spin through Milbank's succinct Space Business Review for Sept. 2007 (which I meant to post a few Flybys ago). Hi to Peter Nesgos.

    Kudos: Lots of launch action last week while newspace stormed New Mexico and I want to note these notable events...

  • Flygirls together: SLP says hats off to Discovery commander Pamela Melroy and ISS commander Peggy Whitson. Very cool.

  • Congratulations to China on the launch of Chang'e-1, (嫦娥一号) the nation's first moon orbiter. The craft, named after the goddess of the Moon, is expcted to arrive in lunar orbit Nov. 5.

  • Also, after Kazakhstan lifted the ban on Proton launches from Baikonur which it imposed in the wake of the Sept. 6 Proton crash, on Friday Russia launched a Proton carrying three satellites of the GLONASS navigation system. Meanwhile, Kazakhstan wants $60 million (1.5 billion rubles) in compensation for the September accident. (RIA Novosti) More on that later.

    And that's all for Monday.

    (By the way, the new
    Space Lifestyle Magazine, which I have not yet read, gets me thinking: why not a space lawyer lifestyle magazine? Hmm. Nah...)

    Finally, if the week is dragging and you're stuck on Earth, take a break and stick your toes in some
    fake Mars dirt (ok, Martian regolith simulant). Might perk you right up. (Hat tip: SpaceRef)

  • * * *

    IMAGE: XP by Rocketplane Global.


    "What the heck is space law?"

    Glad they asked! (And what took 'em so long?) Well, for the benefit of everyone hanging out in blogspace today who would rather be at X Prize Cup (ahem), over at the Wall Street Journal's popular law blog (which is in fact called Law Blog), Prof. Henry Hertzfeld of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University got to answer some basic questions and give a quickie lesson on space law.

    Very quickie. Of course he could go on and on. Speaking of which, stay tuned to SLP for our upcoming features on cool space lawyers (and aren't they all?) which will include profiles, Q&A, photos and behind the scenes insights into this emerging 21st century legal speciality that's poised to leave terrestrial law practice in the Earthly dust. Watch. (You too, Law Blog. ;)

    (Oh. And thanks for the nice plug, FutureSpaceLawyer. Good luck opening your practice on Mars. ;)

    * * *
    IMAGE: Rick Guidice, courtesy NASA.


    NASA hijacks air safety data

    (Really bummed about not being in New Mexico right now. Never mind. What can I post as a distraction? Hmm. Here's something.)
    * * *
    Actually lots of folks were probably surprised to learn that NASA gathered air safety data from pilots. But even more surprising than that revelation were
    reports the space agency withheld its pilot survey data then dissed a request under the Freedom of Information Act made by the Associated Press seeking the aviation safety records. (I admit I didn't know NASA even spoke to commercial airline pilots. I might have mistakenly filed that FOIA request with FAA, not NASA. Things you don't learn in law school. Come to think of it, the FAA is big into space these days, so the bureaucratic turf lines can get a bit confusing. Although FAA regulates commercial not civil space and doesn't much mess with NASA's business.)

    In any case, I will weigh in with everyone (see e.g. the New York Times
    editorial this morning) calling for the agency to release the goods. Really. An almost four-year $8.5 million safety survey of approximately 24,000 commercial and general aviation pilots who were interviewed by NASA for 30 minutes each, the results of which revealed "at least twice as many bird strikes, near mid-air collisions and runway incursions as other government monitoring systems show"? (FAA isn't so sure.) And NASA wants to keep this to itself and worse, has requested the contractor on the project to delete the data from its computers? Come on.

    There is no valid reason to deny the FOIA requests. Even
    Mike Griffin disagrees with his agency's rationale. Let's review NASA's own FOIA regulations (14 CFR Part 1206). AP has. Must Congress schedule a public hearing on this issue and possibly issue subpoenas? Apparently it must.

    Worse, of course: now the public finds itself wondering what other information NASA might be withholding regarding its own awesome and dangerous flying machines and risky space business if the agency is willing to go out of its way to cover up safety and mishap data on silly airplanes. Yikes.

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    Good Weather Satellites

    For you fans of geostationary weather satellites who are following the subcommittee on energy and environment of the House Science and Technology Committee as it follows of the progress of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) program, (and come on, who isn't?) here, hot off the GAO's presses is the 42-page report released at this week's oversight hearings, Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites: Progress Has Been Made, but Improvements Are Needed to Effectively Manage Risks. (GAO-08-18, Oct. 2007).

    Basically, GAO, which continues to review GOES-R series acquisition, looked at status and plans for the program and evaluated "whether NOAA is adequately mitigating key technical and programmatic risks."

    (By the way, for those who need a refresher, the report includes a bit of background on geostationary and polar-orbiting environmental satellites -- both used by the US for weather observation, research and forecasting since the 1960's -- along with a brief overview of prior GOES series. NOAA’s
    National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service [NESDIS] of course manages both GOES and the Polar Operational Environmental Satellites.)

    Over at the hearings, subcommittee
    ranking member Bob Inglis (R-SC) asked about cost and schedule estimate "discrepancies" between that of NOAA and GAO and said: "Those of us responsible for this program, Congress, NOAA, and NASA, cannot allow delays and cost overruns. GOES-R today is a $6.9 billion program for two satellites. That is a lot of taxpayer money. We expect that investment to provide a series of weather satellites that are launched on time and provide data to ensure the most accurate possible weather forecasting and modeling."

    For her part, in prepared testimony for the subcommittee yesterday, NOAA Assistant Administrator for Satellite and Information Services
    Mary E. Kicza said, "I will be the first to acknowledge that NOAA does not have a strong track record with regard to recent satellite acquisition development efforts. We appreciate the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO’s) recognition that, in the GOES-R acquisition, 'progress has been made.'"

    Indeed, running weather satellite programs is stormy business. And the saga continues.

    (On a related note, for you junkies, the House also has this roundup of its
    oversight of the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS), which it first described as: "A vital weather satellite program that is being jointly developed by NOAA, DOD, and NASA that is billions of dollars over budget and several years behind schedule," but then in June, crediting lawmaker oversight, called the program back on track.

    (Yes, this wrangling is much more predictable than the weather.)

    * * *

    UPDATE: Meanwhile, as wildfires continue to rage in California this week, GOES-11 captured this image of smoke rising from flaming and scorched land.


    Get Your 2008 Moot On

    Now that the winners of the 2007 Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition have celebrated returning the coveted Lachs Trophy to Washington and reveled in their boundless moot glory, it's not too early for the vanquished and all else who take up the challenge to begin contemplating arguments for the 2008 moot problem. And here it is:

    Concordia and Landia v Usurpia: Case Concerning the Continued Provision of Lifeline Satellite Services to Countries in the Face of Satellite Operator Insolvency.

    Another space whopper of a case.

    Now don't send me your outlines or I will be ever so tempted to post them here. And I trust no one needs to review How to lose an appeal. But here is a primer on Using Westlaw to Research and Write a Moot Court Brief although it's all pretty obvious (but good marketing for Westlaw, too bad I'm not getting paid. And you also know about Lexis, etc., not to mention all the free resources online.)

    You can review winning space moot briefs from the 2001 competition (Soliscalor v Cornucopia),
    here and here, courtesy of moot organizers and the National University of Singapore, whose team of Geraldine Goh and Celina Chua won the competition that year. (Just for the record, the 2001 runner-up was the University of North Carolina.)

    And if you would like to check out a few winning non-space law briefs, there's always the Chicago-Kent College of Law Moot Court Honor Society's
    best brief database.

    Naturally, here on SLP space moot is our favorite moot. But for those eclectic if not downright obsessive fans of fake court competition everywhere (you know who you are), besides other international law moot events such as the prestigious
    Jessup Cup, there are moot, mock, fake, simulated and otherwise not-ready-for-reality-TV (or Court TV for that matter) scholarly battles and competitions in a multiplicity of legal disciplines, including, in no particular order: animal law, human rights, bankruptcy, European law, information technology and privacy law, environmental law, constitutional law, commercial arbitration, intellectual property, trademark, economics and law, negotiation, and lots more.

    Yes, it's a mootfest, a veritable parade of unrepentant mootness, all year, every year. So get your moot on. And remember, as always we do not take moot court bets or any other wagers here on Space Game Pr-- I mean, Space Law Probe. (And no, I don't see moot court covered over on Intrade.com, "the prediction market". You're on your own.) (Speaking of predictions, just because I'm from NYC doesn't mean I'm betting against Boston in the moot baseball-- I mean, World Series, either.)

    Good luck all!

    * * *
    Law is the only game where the best players get to sit on the bench.
    -- (I have no clue who said this; e-mail me if you know...? ;)


    Rocketplane launches appeal

    Rocketplane Kistler (RpK) lawyers were apparently standing by and took one day to fire off a letter to begin the process of appealing NASA's decision to terminate its Space Act Agreement with the company under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program.

    Brian Berger reports in Space News today, in response to NASA's announcement Oct. 18, the terminated COTS winner sent a letter on Oct. 19 calling the space agency's decision "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion that will not withstand judicial scrutiny should this matter remain unresolved after the three NASA levels of review" and asked NASA to "either reconsider the termination or give the company $10 million for progress it made toward its unmet milestones."

    I have not seen the Space Act Agreement, but Space News reports under its terms RpK can sue NASA in federal court after exhausting "a three-step appeals process that begins with NASA's COTS contracting officer and ends with the agency's associate administrator for exploration systems, Rich Gilbrech, who signed off on RpK's termination."

    For its part, Alan Lindenmoyer, NASA's COTS program chief is quoted by Space News saying, "We spent the last year trying to work with RpK to give them every opportunity to succeed. Based on its failure to meet its performance milestones, we've come to the conclusion that it is in NASA's best interest to discontinue our funded Space Act Agreement and reopen the competition."

    And NASA spokesperson Melissa Mathews confirmed, "The Oct. 18 termination letter is a final agency decision," and the company's appeal would not delay NASA's new COTS solicitation, under which RpK may submit a new proposal.

    Alas. It seems like yesterday (well, August 2006) that RpK, along with SpaceX celebrated
    winning the COTS competition. (SpaceX, which won the larger of the two awards, shared not RpK's difficulties meeting milestones.)

    Meanwhile, it's back to square one as NASA solicits new proposals. Clark Lindsey comments here. And never mind the K-1 orbital vehicle, there's still space tourism and the XP spacecraft for Rocketplane. (Via HobbySpace)


    Friday Flybys - 10.19.07

    As severe rain and other kinds of storm activity rips through the East Coast here, some quick and hopefully dry Flybys....

    First, from The Space Review:

  • Stagnant Space Treaty? Yes, another thoughtful critique (the third in four weeks, unless I missed a few) of the now 40-year old Outer Space Treaty in one of our favorite weekly publications here in blogspace, The Space Review (which, despite any rumors to the contrary, does not necessarily find itself contemplating changing its name to the The Space Treaty Review). This week, Jessica West of Project Ploughshares (which I understand is "an agency of the Canadian Council of Churches," that "provides expertise and analysis to the Council and its members on peace and security issues, and assists them in shaping an ecumenical response to those issues") writes of the "continuing relevance of the OST as the cornerstone of outer space governance" and voices concern that "there are environmental, political, military, and technological challenges to this regime...." She contemplates the troublesome Chinese ASAT test in light of the Treaty's unused provisions for international consultation if a planned activity could cause harmful interference to other states. Her point: "The OST, while more or less observed, is not engaged, and risks growing stagnant. After 40 years it is time for a review of the letter, spirit, and application of the OST so that it can continue to guide the international community towards the type of security in outer space that can support the fulfillment of our imaginations.

    And from The Space Review last week (yes, I'm catching up; and no mention of the Treaty here):

  • Regs, regs, regs: It ain't just FAA -- it's EPA and BATFE and "spaceport regulations, the county and state regulations, Department of Transportation regulations," and... oh yeah. Joe Latrell, CEO (rocketeer, non-lawyer) of Beyond-Earth Enterprises steps up to rebut the regulatory myth" that commercial space regulation is "virtually non-existent". Believe it, or talk to his lawyers.

    And now, don't hold your applause...

  • The International Institute of Space Law's Life Time Achievement Award goes to... Mr. K. R. Sridhara Murthi, executive director of Antrix Corporation Limited (the marketing arm of Indian Space Research Organization). The award is "presented in recognition of Mr. Sridhara Murthi’s service to the International community of nations, the International Institute of Space Law and other organisations in which he has made valuable contributions and provided sustained leadership in the furtherance of Astronautical sciences, development of International Space Law and Policy, international cooperation among scientists and lawyers of many nations throughout his distinguished career." Congratulations from SLP!

    Next, show us the funding...

  • Federal spacebucks: Right, this blog is still not Space Budget Probe, thus we turn to others for the latest on the ongoing NASA appropriations process.

    But other money matters are right us this blog's space alley...

  • Replacing Rocketplane: As the saga continues... Alan Boyle has the lowdown on NASA's termination of Rocketplane. And here is NASA's statement on opening up a new competition for COTS money.

    Meanwhile, SpaceX rockets on.

    But back to the regulators...

  • FAA at ABA: USA Today actually sent a reporter to the ABA's Forum on Air & Space Law meetup in Memphis when they heard FAA/AST chief Patti Grace Smith would be there. Other folks representing the space law side of the more than half air law conference included FAA senior attorney Laura Montgomery, and Tracey Knutson, who plainly articulated the hazardous nature of the spaceflight industry, saying, "We're going to kill some people." (And she does some of her best legal drafting and advising with that in mind.)

  • Speaking of FAA: Here's the busy agency's final Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for Experimental Permits for 2007 X Prize Cup (Oct. 2007) Go Lunar Landing Challengers!

    Meanwhile, over at school space...

  • Better than we think? (I'm not sure space law education has ever been the subject of debate in the letters pages of a national publications, until now...) In Wall Street Journal this week Prof. Henry R. Hertzfeld of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University responds to Prof. Matt Schaefer of The University of Nebraska who wrote in to lament the state of American space law education. Prof. Hertzfeld has a different perspective, and his points are good. Although I did get an e-mail from a 3L at a New York law school this week who said whenever he mentioned space law, he "mostly got blank stares followed by a glimmer of recognition. NO ONE at my school could give me any advice." (Yes we do need more Professor Hertzfelds and Schaefers.)

    And a bit of Earthly politics...

  • Candidate space: Hillary came up in last week's flybys, now it's Rudy's turn. And all I can say is when he was mayor here in NYC, where we have all kinds of aliens, the Giuliani did not often get asked questions like this.

    And from the other side of Earth...

  • Red space: Apparently it takes three or more taikonauts to start a branch of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in space. Yang Liwei, CPC member and China's first taikonaut is planning ahead. Good thing space is a big ideological and political neighborhood. (Xinhua)

    (By the way, from SLP to China, happy 4th anniversary of the first manned space mission, launched Oct. 15, 2003.)

    Wrapping up...

  • Why yes, there is a space law question on the History of International Law Quiz. (And yes you do know the answer.)

  • Finally, strong proof of water on Mars. Oh well. After this downpour I was hoping to find a spot of dry land somewhere...

    Have a super weekend.

    Stay afloat.

    * * *
    IMAGE: Kids dig Yang Liwei's space suit; Oct. 24, 2003. [newsphoto.com.cn]

  • 10.18.2007

    Scientists, engineers, explorers, Langley and Yeager

    It's nice to see the House of Representatives taking a moment this week to honor the 50th anniversary of the space age with H.Con.Res. 225. This somehow simultaneously commemorative and forward-thinking resolution, inter alia, “declares it to be in America’s interest to continue to advance knowledge and improve life on Earth through a sustained national commitment to space exploration in all its forms, led by a new generation of well educated scientists, engineers, and explorers.” (My italics.)

    Ah. As opposed to uneducated scientists, engineers, and explorers, then?

    And what's this? No mention of lawyers? Well never mind. Thank you, House.

    On a related note, the thoughtful lawmakers also passed
    H.Con.Res. 222, a resolution honoring NASA’s Langley Research Center on its 90th anniversary. And I want to second that with a wow. Ninety! Isn't that like impossibly old in space years? (More somberly, Jeff Foust reports the 421-0 roll call vote "was a bittersweet moment: the resolution has been introduced by the late Rep. Jo Ann Davis [R-VA] less than a week before her death." Our condolences to the Congresswoman's family and constituents.)

    By the way, not just for those surprised to learn NASA's Langley is 40 years older than the space age itself (remember, in 1917 the
    National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, NASA's predecessor, established the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Virginia, now the NASA Langley Research Center), the space agency is hosting an open house Saturday, October 27, 2007 at LaRC in Hampton, Virginia to celebrate the field center's big nine oh.

    And there's more. While it was pondering aerospace milestones, the House with its head still in the clouds also passed
    H.Res. 736, which honors "the 60th anniversary of the aeronautics research accomplishments embodied in 'the breaking of the sound barrier'." ("Whereas on the morning of October 14, 1947, an X-1 aircraft piloted by Captain Charles 'Chuck' Yeager was dropped from a B-29 carrier aircraft and 'broke the sound barrier' and achieved supersonic flight for the first time in history...")

    All great. And much more to come.

    Happy resolutions.

    Rules are made for people who aren't willing to make up their own.
    --Chuck Yeager (not his lawyer)


    Space law bibliography: 1930-2007

    That's right, it's not your grandfather's remote sensing and space law bibliography.

    The latest unique resource from our friends at the
    National Center for Remote Sensing, Air, and Space Law at the University of Mississippi School of Law, who keep quite busy between publishing volumes of the Journal of Space Law, is a hot new book and searchable CD bibliography covering the wide world of published materials concerning remote sensing law and space law, along with (not that this blog would necessarily notice,) air law as well -- from 1930 though 2007.

    Read the announcement. Then
    order a few hundred copies for your favorite space, remote sensing and aerospace clients and few close friends.

    Journal of Space Law: Remote Sensing, Air, and Space Law
    International Bibliography 1930 - 2007
    Book and searchable CD
    Price: $45.00

    The National Center for Remote Sensing, Air, and Space Law is proud to announce a special publication, the Journal of Space Law: Remote Sensing, Air, and Space Law International Bibliography 1930 - 2007.

    This bibliography is an updated and expanded edition of the first one published by the Center in 2002. As did the first one, this bibliography addresses the legal and policy aspects of remote sensing and space law. However, this second edition has been expanded to include aviation law -- an extensive legal and policy field unto itself. Together, these topics span the entire spectrum of aerospace law.

    The bibliography covers domestic and international literature, published in various languages, related to remote sensing, air, and space law and policy issues. It includes, for example, publications on data policy, privacy, liability, insurance, intellectual property, public law, and commercialization in the form of books, dissertations, reports, proceedings, symposia, government publications and other materials published between 1930 and 2007. Though the bibliography's focus is on law, a few relevant scientific and technical publications that can serve the lawyer, law student, and legal assistant as a reference are included.

    The bibliography contains a special section on U.S. case law. It includes state and federal cases in which remotely sensed and other geospatial data were used in a variety of legal proceedings, particularly litigation. There is also a section on recent aviation case law from 1990 to 2007. Selected law review articles that discuss some of the cases are also listed. Research was conducted in the Westlaw, Lexis, and OCLC/Worldcat databases. Search terms included geographic information systems, GIS, geospatial, geospatial data, remote sensing, aerial photography, aerial photography, satellites, satellite images, global positioning system, GPS, radar, aerial images, and thermal imagery.

    The bibliography is published as both a text and a searchable CD.


    (So, Joanne, when is the video coming out? ;)


    Satellite finance news

    If you missed last week's ISCe Satellite Investment Symposium (ISIS) NYC '07, (Oct. 9th) which took place at The Princeton Club here in New York and featured "top executives in commercial satellite business as well as the key movers and shakers from Wall Street and the private financing community," (with plenty of their lawyers, of course) no worries, catch up with summaries of panels, speeches and news from the conference, via issues 1 and 2 of the event's daily briefings.

    Also, heads up, ISIS NYC '08 is on for Tuesday, October 14, 2008, at The Princeton Club.

    And for now, please ignore those few luddite
    anti-GPS striking NYC taxi drivers. Really, the Big Space Apple loves satellites.


    No "legal showstoppers" to space solar power

    Adding to the sunny pile of already released and filed away government reports on space-based solar power, as anticipated, the Pentagon's National Security Space Office (NSSO) weighed in this week with its own two megawatts on the topic with the opus (or rather, "interim assessment"), Space-Based Solar Power as an Opportunity for Strategic Security," (Oct. 10, 2007).

    Basically, study group wants the government to
    go for it.

    I especially like the fact that "the SBSP Study Group found that no outright policy or legal showstoppers exist to prevent the development of SBSP." But no surprise, the study group cautions, "Full-scale SBSP, however, will require a permissive international regime, and construction of this new regime is in every way a challenge nearly equal to the construction of the satellite itself."

    That's right. More work for space lawyers.

    Reading through quickly, the study group's legal and policy recommendations include that:
    - policy and legal framework development should begin simultaneously with any science and technology development efforts to ensure that intangible issues do not delay employment of technology solutions;
    - U.S. industry should be exempt from ITAR when working with our closest and most trusted allies on SBSP systems (I can hear the cheering);
    - government-funded SBSP technology maturation efforts should not include "buy America" clauses;
    - the government should form a SBSP Partnership Council that consists of all relevant federal agencies
    - the SBSP Partnership Council must be chaired and led by an existing or newly created single‐purpose civilian federal agency;
    - the government should task one or more federal agencies for investing in key technologies needed for SBSP.

    And while the study found "space‐based solar power is a complex engineering challenge, but requires no fundamental scientific breakthroughs or new physics to become a reality," it will take some new law. Proving once again that law can be a bigger "showstopper" than physics.

    Read the whole report.

    Yes, Elon Musk is quoted in it. (A little star power goes a long way.)

    And space lawyers thanked and acknowledged for their contributions to the study include Art Dula, Rosanna Sattler, Wayne White and Mark I. Wallach.

    Also, visit the new
    Space Solar Alliance for Future Energy (SSAFE) announced this week to "pursue recommendations" of the NSSO-led study. SSAFE is in the business of "advocating investment in space-based solar power technologies to address the planet’s future energy needs." The founding members are the National Space Society, Space Frontier Foundation, Space Power Association, Aerospace Technology Working Group, Marshall Institute, Moon Society, ShareSpace Foundation, Space Studies Institute, Spaceward Foundation, AIAA Space Colonization Technical Committee, ProSpace, Space Enterprise Council, and Space Generation Foundation.

    And Space Law Probe (channeling "Solar Law Probe") is all for this.

    * * *
    IMAGE: ©Mafic Studios, Inc. (More cool space solar power images, courtesy of NSS,


    Schaefer on US space law education

    The US has always been a leader in space, but a follower in space law eduction. In the Wall Street Journal today, Professor Matt Schaefer, director of the University of Nebraska College of Law's hot, new, first-in-the-nation Space and Telecom Law Program, notes the "curious" lack until now of an American degree-bearing space law program, and calls for what will esentially be a new era for space law school in the US. And he's the guy leading the charge:

    Space Law in the U.S. Needs a Giant Leap

    In response to "One Giant Leap" by Peter D. Zimmerman (editorial page, Oct. 1): Just as the Soviets beat the U.S. in launching a satellite into orbit in 1957, foreign academic institutions beat U.S. law schools in offering degrees in space law. McGill University in Montreal and Leiden University in the Netherlands have offered degrees in air and space law for many years. Yet in the U.S. no such degree program existed until the creation of the University of Nebraska College of Law's Space and Telecom Law LL.M. program that just received final university approval in June.

    The absence of a degree-bearing program was particularly curious given that the U.S. is by far the largest actor in space, controlling or operating roughly 70% of space assets, and has the largest market share in both the global space and telecommunications industries. Just as the launch of Sputnik pushed a drive in math and science studies in the U.S., increased commercialization and militarization of space over the past decade has rekindled an interest in regulating space activities, at both the international and national levels. And just as the scientific and technical aspects of space activities bear witness to both cooperation and competition among nations, the space law community will follow suit.

    For evidence of this dual trend, look no further than the invitation list to Nebraska's first conference on security and risk management in space activities, including scholars from the other leading space law institutes, as well as the hiring away of Leiden's resident space law expert, Frans von der Dunk, by Nebraska's new program. The space law community hopes that the same advances made through cooperation and competition in the scientific and technical aspects of space can be made in the legal arena as well.


    Space Treaty turns 40

    Sputnik had a blast during its 50th anniversary celebration last week and it'll be hard to top all that.

    Well today is the 40th anniversary 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.

    I'm pretty sure the
    40th anniversary of Star Trek last year garnered more attention and excitement than will this, even though without a doubt the Outer Space Treaty boldly went where no treaty on Earth had even imagined going before.

    While some space agers love the so-called Magna Carta of space and want its provisions chiseled forever in moon rock, others continue to voice serious complaints and concerns about this fundamental framework of space law, with some of the contentious issues surrounding certain treaty provisions dating back to before the international agreement entered into force 40 years ago today -- Oct. 10, 1967.

    Fear not, discussion and debate will continue as to next steps for international space law. For now, just a short post to quietly commemorate the 40th anniversary of the document that launched a thousand or more law careers.

    As we recall, way back in 1967, a year of major Vietnam War battles and large anti-war protests, American race riots and the swearing in of the first black Supreme Court Justice, the Beatles, summer of love, Elvis and Priscilla tying the knot in Vegas, Aretha Franklin singing Respect, the first live, international, satellite TV show and the world's first heart transplant, space-faring nations the US and USSR, along with many others, joined in a ground-breaking agreement on space activities which may have been the best shot at the time for the world's first international space accord.

    The historic year experienced a tragic start when on January 27, the day the US, Soviet Union and United Kingdom actually signed the Outer Space Treaty (and who can forget
    Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson's remarks from the East Room at the White House at the signing of the Treaty that day?), Apollo 1 astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward Higgins White, and Roger Chaffee died in a fire in Apollo 1 during a launch pad test. (A few months later, on April 24 cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov also lost his life when his Soyuz 1 parachute failed on reentry).

    But the world saw a lot of great space action in '67, including launches in the Lunar Orbiter and Surveyor programs; Russia's Venera 4 and Cosmos 167, Mariner 5, and Apollo 4.

    And space history rockets on.

    So far there is nothing on the horizon to replace the Outer Space Treaty. And for the near future, I'll predict no great groundswell of support for withdrawing from it. But a lot of other space law-making is underway. Will the Outer Space Treaty survive intact another 40 years? We can only imagine what the next 40, 50 and for that matter, 500 years of our species' space activities will bring.

    One thing, however, is certain: Lots more work for space lawyers ;)

    Happy 40th.

    Change is the essential process of all existence.
    -- Spock; "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield", Star Trek stardate 5730.2

    * * *
    Image: NASA


    Monday miscellany - 10.08.07

    (Monday musings, Monday mosh pit, Monday mashup? Never mind. A grab bag of items at the top of the week, best served in a Friday Flybys, but some weeks, well, you take 'em as they come...)

  • Privacy space: the Ninth Circuit issued an order temporarily enjoining NASA from requiring workers to respond to questionnaires in connection with background investigations under Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12. The court said it had not had opportunity to "consider fully the voluminous material" (motions, responses and exhibits totaling 984 pages -- law clerks do math, not me) filed in the appeal, and the appellants "likely raise serious legal and constitutional questions...." Here is the Ninth Circuit's three-page order. Perhaps the space agency should explore space instead.

  • NYC space: Greeting from the SLP home office to Delbert Smith of Jones Day, all the satellite industry folks, telecom financial gurus and everyone here in town this week for ISCe Satellite Investment Symposium NYC '07 (Oct. 9) as well as SATCON - (Oct. 10-11). Have a NYC hotdog. (Or a much better lunch on Del, if you hire him.)

  • Power space: Looking forward to the announcement by NSS and friends on Wednesday regarding the launch of a new alliance for space solar power. Count this blog in. Also, looking forward to the release of that NSSO report on space solar power (which I talked about here.)

  • Things that go: For its contribution to the ABA's International Law Year in Review, the International Transportation Committee wants 500-1500 word updates on "legislative, regulatory, and judicial developments which affect international transportation in all modes." I bet they're not expecting space transportation. (See the 2006 Year in Review draft.) Submissions due by Dec. 1, 2007. E-mail Dean Saul, at Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada dean.saul@gowlings.com.

  • Speaking of ABA space, if you have news, etc. you'd like to post from the ABA Forum on Air & Space Law Annual Meeting last week in Memphis, Tennessee, send it here. Thanks!

  • An item to add to the line-up of upcoming space events of legal interest: Humans in Outer Space – Interdisciplinary Odysseys - Oct. 11-12, 2007 hosted by co-organized by the European Science Foundation (ESF), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) in Vienna; and I see there will be a talk on "Space law in the age of ISS" by Frans von der Dunk of the University of Leiden (but soon to be at the University of Nebraska), and one titled, "In need of a legal framework for exploration" by Ulrike Bohlmann of ESA.

  • And other event: Transforming Space 2007 - Nov. 5-8, 2007, Los Angeles, California, hosted by the California Space Authority. I see on CSA's conference announcement and agenda a number of lawyer, lawmaker and government types listed as speakers, including Shana Dale, Jane Harman, Adam Schiff, Ken Calvert and Doug Griffith. Also appearing, space stars Elon Musk, Peter Diamandis, Anousheh Ansari and others. Yes the conference will host a space fashion show and no, there will be no space lawyers modeling space lawyer suits and couture. I promise.

  • Speaking of California Space Authority, Andrea Seastrand and Janice Dunn of CSA were David Livingston's guests on The Space Show on Friday. Listen to their talk.

  • Polling for treaties: Here are the results of a poll conducted this summer which asked adults in Britain, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, and the US, "Do you support or oppose enacting a treaty that would ban all weapons in space? (Space lawyers were not separately polled about how they would draft such a treaty.) (The Simons Foundation / Angus Reid Strategies)

  • Speaking of treaties: Amid calls to do drastic things to the the Magna Carta of space, like oh, ditch it, here is one example of a pro-treaty comment on the anniversary of Sputnik last week -- Dr. Marc Garneau, former astronaut and head of the Canadian Space Agency, called for a work on new Canadian space policy and "talked about the need to strengthen the United Nations Outer Space Treaty.

  • Now who will bake a 40th anniversary cake?

  • Candidate space: Not sure if this translates to votes, but Sen. Hillary Clinton gave a speech last week on Sputnik's anniversary covering space policy. (Via SpaceRef, which is covering any statement by a candidate "regardless of party - that deals directly with space exploration" and gracioulsy bolded relevent portions of the speech.)

  • NASA Watch on saving Arecibo.

  • Another Nasdaq delisting warning for Spacehab. (How can this company not be worth $1 a share? Really, what's a dollar worth lately?)

  • No Supreme space: That's right, the new Supreme Court session is one week old today and the docket confirms, the High Court justices in their wisdom once again found cause to grant cert in no space law cases.

  • Civil space budget stuff: No need to rehash; of course NASA Watch and Space Politics cover the latest.

  • Fake science budget news: Will Congress fund a new $50 Billion Science Thing? One lawmaker seems to support the project, saying, "in the end, I have always said that science is more important than it is unimportant." (Via Cosmic Log)

    And that's it for now. Hey, it's almost Tuesday...

    * * *

    IMAGE: Ah, great for a Monday -- or any day -- I love this painting, titled, "Hello Universe," by everyone's favorite
    astronaut and artist, Alan Bean.

  • 10.05.2007

    Panel in Omaha

    (Another key item to add to the line-up of events of legal interest during this space anniversary season....)

    In conjunction with
    Strategic Space and Defense 2007 which is taking place next week, Oct. 9-11, 2007 in lovely Omaha, the University of Nebraska Law School -- the new space law hot spot -- has put together this interesting space law seminar:

  • Formalism v. Informalism in Space Law - Oct. 9, 2007; 2:30-4:30PM at the Omaha Hilton.

    Here's the description:
    While new formal space treaties (or major amendment of existing treaties) are unlikely in the near future, there are an array of informal mechanisms and national legislation and practice that occur to regulate space--what degree of formalism is most appropriate, do certain informal mechanisms work better than others, what factors impact government choices regarding the degree of formalism, how do the informal mechanisms interact with the formal treaties, will informal mechanisms have to become more formalized over time, how do new space actors impact the choice between formal and informal mechanisms, and among informal mechanisms, given rapidly evolving technology and commercial activities are informal mechanisms going to continue to be the major law making device, how does potentially increasing militarization impact choices between formal and informal mechanisms, what “gaps” or issues in existing law most need “filling” through informal or formal mechanisms, etc.

    Excellent, meaty topic. And these speakers can certainly handle it:

    - Prof. Matt Schaefer, director of UNL College of Law's Space and Telecom Law Program;
    - Steve Mirmina, Senior Attorney, NASA General Counsel’s Office;
    - Darren Huskisson, former Chief Cyber and Space Law, USSTRATCOM;
    - Jonathan Solomon, Legal Officer, Dept. of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canada.

    Enjoy! Greetings to friends in Nebraska.

    (Note to Matt -- love the new logo. ;)

  • 10.04.2007

    Счастливая Щ0тю Годовщина, Sputnik!

    Sputnik is responsible for launching more than the space age. Lots of lawyers got new jobs.

    Here in the US, in the wake of the shock and awe from that globally mesmerizing first satellite on Oct. 10, 1957, fast reacting lawmakers launched space legislation in the form of the
    National Aeronautics and Space Act (signed into law by President Eisenhower in July 1958; we'll light NASA's 50th birthday candles next year), created new standing Congressional committees devoted to space and science, and increased federal funding for science and development. Just for starters. Lawyers couldn't be happier.

    Internationally, over at the UN, space law-making began in 1958 when the General Assembly established the ad hoc Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space
    (resolution 1348 (XIII)), and 1959, made COPUOS a permanent organization (resolution 1472 (XIV). (It now has 67 members.) Courtesy of COPUOS we now have five international legal instruments and five sets of legal principles governing space-related activities, including the grandma of all space treaties, the Outer Space Treaty which entered into force on Oct. 10, 1967 (later, space law authority Prof. Bin Cheng noted, "the treaty was drawn up not only in some haste within the space of less than 12 months, but also less than ten years after the launch of the earth's first artificial satellite.")

    And today many nations are drafting their own new
    space legislation; and forward-thinking state lawmakers have begun to craft commercial space age law, too.

    Space lawyers are busy.

    Naturally certain space law born of the Cold War has grown dated. Like space endeavours themselves, applicable law must continue to evolve. And that's all to the good. Leading space law pioneer and guru, Dr. Eileen Galloway recalled, "When we came together to begin drafting space law, it was somewhat unbelievable." Indeed it must have been. And here is a classic and fascinating Dr. Galloway speech entitled,
    Organizing The United States Government For Outer Space: 1957-1958, which she gave at a symposium, Reconsidering Sputnik: Forty Years Since The Soviet Sputnik, sponsored by the NASA Office of Policy & Plans; National Air & Space Museum; George Washington University Space Policy Institute and Kenan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC on Sept. 30 - Oct. 1, 1997. Read the whole thing.

    (Some folks still ask, why do we need space law anyway? Well perhaps on a world in a parallel universe somewhere, the two resident superpowers pony up for the beginning of the space age, no lawyers join in, and that's fine. But not on this planet. Here you need lawyers. It's an Earth thing.)

    So today, space lawyers and space agers alike say spaseeba! Thank you, Sputnik, for everything. And the first 50 years of this thing was just a warm up.

    As we say here on SLP, the space law adventure is just beginning.

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