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.

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

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