Nebraska Gets Von Der Dunk

As the newly minted University of Nebraska College of Law's LL.M program in space law lifts off, the faculty is beginning to take shape in stellar way. And here's the latest announcement:

"Professor Frans Von Der Dunk will join the College of Law faculty in January of 2008.

Professor Von Der Dunk will teach space law, national security space law and European regulation of space to students in the Law College's new Space and Telecom Law LL.M. as well as to the Law College's J.D. students. His first course will be Space Law, to be taught in the Spring of 2008."

Great news for Nebraska Law. (Condolences to the International Institute of Air and Space Law at Leiden University where Prof. Von der Dunk is currently director of space law research.)

Nebraska's bio of Prof. Von der Dunk isn't posted yet; in the interim, here are just a few selected highlights of the professor's impressive career so far (in no particular order; via Leiden):

"Dr. Von der Dunk has served as adviser to the Dutch Government, several foreign Governments, the European Commission, the European Space Agency (ESA), the United Nations (UN), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Dutch National Aerospace Agency (NIVR), the German Space Agency (DLR), the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), and the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), as well as various companies. Such advisory work dealt with a broad area of issues related to space activities, such as space policy, national space law, privatisation of space activities, Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) (in particular Galileo), satellite communications, radio astronomy, and earth observation."

"Dr. Von der Dunk was awarded the Distinguished Service Award of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL) of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) in Vancouver, in October 2004, and the Social Science Award of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) in Valencia, in October 2006. He defended his dissertation on “Private Enterprise and Public Interest in the European ‘Spacescape’” in 1998."

"He has written over 100 articles and published papers, has given some 100 presentations at international meetings and was visiting professor at some 20 foreign universities across the world on subjects of international and national space law and policy, international air law and public international law. He has (co-)organised some 20 international symposia, workshops and other events, and has been (co-)editor of a number of publications and proceedings. As of 2006, he is the Series Editor of ‘Studies in Space Law’, published by Brill."

"He is Director and Treasurer of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL), Member of the Board of the European Centre for Space Law (ECSL), and Member for the Netherlands in the International Law Association’s (ILA) Committee on Space Law."

This is the Professor's most recent book. And here's a list of his main publications.

Lots more to come. For now, welcome to the States, Professor!

(Quick -- someone give the new Nebraskan a red football jersey!)


Wednesday walkabout - 9.25.07

A few quick tidbits (which normally is the function of Friday Flybys, but alas, nothing is ever normal on this blog). . .

  • IAC update: A number of my sources over at the space summit in India this week -- who all seem to be having a great time -- confirm that the schedule, including that of the space law moot court competition, underwent a few last minute changes due to the huge 10-day Indian festival honoring Lord Ganesh (who, I like to think, would have approved of the space congress). Meanwhile, I did hear about a "spirited discussion... in the debris panel ['New Legal Developments in the Protection of the Space Environment'] regarding the possibility of amending the liability convention to allow for proportional liability for damage caused by unidentified debris." (See what we're missing?) I'm now awaiting news about the moot court final. (And as I've said, please, no wagers.)

  • Closer space: While space lovers in India contemplate the Moon and Mars, the Kerala government and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) try to resolve a legal dispute over the purchase of land by ISRO for its space technology institute at Ponmudi.

  • COMSTAC: Back at home, here's the preliminary agenda for the Oct. 11th gathering over at FAA Headquarters.

  • Shana's blog: the deputy chief posts about NASA financial management and other "fairly dry" stuff. (For this she went to law school?) Shana quotes Boss Griffin saying, "all elements of NASA need to be healthy because a failure in financial or legal, among others, can be just as devastating to NASA as a program failure." (Yes, but you can blame the lawyers for those.)

  • Private property and the moon: If you can't get enough PowerPoints (and who can?) Klaus P. Heiss of High frontier has a PowerPoint from Rutger's Lunar Base Symposium last June. (Via HobbySpace)

  • Attention decabillionaires: John Tierney suggests "immortal glory" via Mars.

  • Treaty blues: John Hickman joins the crowd who want the US out of the Outer Space Treaty (The Space Review). A written response from Wayne White (who Hickman cited extensively in the article) will be forthcoming when Wayne's schedule allows. Stay tuned.

  • "The evolving role of law in aerospace activities" -- excerpts from Dr. Ruwantissa Abeyratne's interesting lecture at the Royal Aeronautical Society, Montreal Branch, delivered on August 3, 2007 at ICAO Headquarters, Montreal.

  • Galileo update by Jeff Foust.

  • Dirt rules: The California Space Authority seeks comments on the rules for the 2008 Regolith Excavation Challenge. Deadline for feedback is Oct. 1, 2007. (And here's my nephew Jake "Skywalker" Londin a few years ago practicing for this type of challenge.)

  • That's right, NASA is still hiring astronauts. Only those with the right astro stuff need apply. But be advised, according to a "key requirement" listed in the job posting, "travel may be required." (Lawyers help write these announcements.)

  • No, the meteorite that landed in Peru and reportedly made locals sick has not been sold on Ebay.

  • Speaking of making folks sick, please call a doctor not a space lawyer when microbes sent into orbit come back stronger and deadlier than ever.

    That's all for now. ;)

    * * *
    IMAGE CREDIT: NASA. (Well I thought this
    untethered EVA more or less illustrated the Wednesday walkabout idea; just hang on tight to your "manned maneuvering unit".)

  • 9.24.2007

    Space lawyers in Hyderabad

    नमस्ते. Greetings from SLP to all gathered this week in Hyderabad, India for the 58th International Astronautical Congress (IAC 2007).

    The five-day summit, organized by the International Astronautical Federation, the International Academy of Astronautics and of course the
    International Institute of Space Law (IISL) (and did I leave anyone out?) -- all graciously hosted by the Indian Space Research Organisation and the Astronautical Society of India -- brings together delegates and seriously interested folks from all around the home planet to brainstorm about space interests -- business, technology, tourism, exploration and lots more. Which is just the sort of thing that will attract space lawyers galore.

    Yes, I see a number of interesting space policy and law sessions in the
    extensive IAC line-up, just one example of which is this space tourism law panel which I previewed in an earlier post. Wish I were there.

    For now, some initial news out of Hyderabad, where the summit is underway
    under tight security in the wake of last month's terror bombings in the city: Mike Griffin gave a speech outlining NASA's goals, saying in the centenary of the space age (that's 2057, if my math is correct,) "we should be celebrating 20 years of man on Mars." And India's Minister of State Prithviraj Chavan said his country is planning to conduct 60 space missions over the next five years.

    As I've talked about, one of the main space law events, held in conjunction with IISL's annual space law colloquium at IAC, consists of the semi-finals and world finals of the
    16th Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition. Future space lawyers who have been researching, pacing the floor and sharpening their oral arguments all year will duke it out in real space-time in the "Case Concerning International Liability" (Emeralda v Mazonia); the semi-final will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 25th in a "closed session" at the convention center in Hyderabad. The finals will be held on Thursday Sept. 27th at NALSAR University of Law, and, as I've noted, will be judged by three members of the International Court of Justice. The case may be moot but it is major league.

    And yes, for invitees only, the annual dinner of IISL will follow the finals.

    I look forward to hearing from everyone who has promised me news and updates from India. ;) Meanwhile, have fun, all; and good luck, moot court competitors!


    Lunar landing law

    Over on Slate, which is not an ABA-accredited law school publication last I checked, the Explainer channeled a space lawyer or two to briefly (in like, 450 words or less,) address the question, "Do you need special permission to land something on the moon?" (Short answer: "Not exactly." Which is pretty much exactly correct. Proving once again how easy it is to sound lawyerly.)

    By the way, the Explainer got no hints (but
    earned a good grade) from the Professor.

    Land safely.


    Still studying space solar power

    Yes, folks love to talk about and study the concept of space solar power (or space-based solar power or solar power satellites or whatever you want to call it, take your pick). This has been going on for decades. But talk is cheaper than microwaves in space.

    Leonard David notes, space-based solar power has been the subject of studies by the likes of NASA, the Department of Energy, the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

    Now it's the Department of Defense's turn.

    But where is the final report from the
    National Security Space Office (NSSO) on space-based solar power? Good question. Over at the Space Solar Power public discussion forum (can I just call it a blog?) hosted by the Space Frontier Foundation to help with the NSSO study, director of the study, Col. (Select) Michael V. "Coyote" Smith, who is Chief of Future Concepts (love the official title; and I gather we can just call him Coyote) for the NSSO, updates us that his office will issue an interim report (not a final report) in October -- tentatively during a National Space Society event at the National Press Club on October 10th.

    Coyote does "foreshadow" that interim report
    here. And one of the items he indicates the study will highlight as "requiring greater analysis," is: "Legal issues: Liability? Indemnity? Licensing? Frequency management?" Of course.

    Coyote believes
    "broad international partnerships" are the way to go here. "First, to reassure the world that that space-based solar power is not a pathway to weaponize space. Second, to garner early support in the international community for additions and changes to space law, customs, and codes of conduct that will be required to make space-based solar power a reality. Finally, broad international partners will help industry find broad international customers to buy our energy product." Yup. More work for space lawyers.

    Seaking of which, here is a white paper prepared for DOE by Carl Q. Christol entitled,
    Satellite Power System (SPS) International Agreements (Oct. 1978) in which he took an early look at international legal issues in connection with a geostationary space-based solar power system.

    And if you think it's all international, here's a report by Allan D. Kotin on
    State and Local Regulations as Applied to Satellite Power System Microwave Receiving Antenna Facilities (also prepared for DOE, Oct. 1978). You'll burn a few watts reading through this.

    Meanwhile, if you were wondering (as I was) why the Pentagon is so interested in space solar power, here is
    Coyote's answer (written on a napkin at a Washington D.C. pub, naturally), in which he specifies, "The emphasis throughout this study is that the DoD wants to be a customer of clean energy from space, not a producer." (But isn't DoD money a bit tied up? I hope they even afford to buy space power when it becomes available.)

    With the business concept in mind, it's good to see some commercial thinking on space solar power at
    Google Lunar X Prize, which portrays the concept on its website this way: "Clean solar energy can be sent from space to the earth with solar collectors in high Earth orbit made from lunar materials. A single solar power satellite could power a major Earth city without CO2 or other pollution."

    Yes. One day.

    (Hat tip:
    Clark Lindsey.)


    Launching new amateur rocket rules

    Countdown continues as FAA/AST prepares "to update our regulations and align them with advances in the amateur rocket industry," by promulgating new Requirements for Amateur Rocket Activities. FAA's period for commenting on this proposed rulemaking closed on Sept. 12th, and you can read all the submissions from folks who weighed in on the NPRM at DOT's docket management site -- and don't forget to type in the corrected docket number for this rulemaking -- 27390). All the folks with the right rocket stuff launched feedback. After all, for many this is more than just a weekend hobby -- space transportation industry leaders, among others, are forged in rocketry clubs -- so some folks don't mind taking the time out to talk to the government about regulations concerning these precious homemade boosters. I counted at least 30 comments, including of course from folks who keep a sharp eye on government action concerning hobby rocketry such as the National Association of Rocketry and Tripoli Rocketry Association (and it's good to see them addressing legal concerns other than the costly and explosive ACPC litigation with BATFE and instead talking to friendly FAA).

    So why the need for new regulations? As our rocket regulators explain,

    Historically, the FAA has relied on state and local regulation, voluntary self-regulation, and its own analysis to fulfill its oversight responsibility for unmanned rocket operations under [14 CFR] part 101. The voluntary self-regulation has been carried out by the organizations sponsoring these activities. When we amended part 101 in 1994, we included provisions for large model rockets. The voluntary self-regulation and state and local regulations were effective for purposes of protecting public safety for model and large model rockets. However, amateur rocket performance has continued to improve and participation in amateur rocket launches has increased significantly. Therefore, the once remote possibility of an accident or incident resulting from amateur rocket activities has become more likely. The FAA now believes these activities need regulation appropriate for continued safe operation. This rulemaking is intended to preserve the safety record of amateur rocket activities, address inconsistencies, and clarify existing amateur rocket regulations.

    Provisions discussed in the comments included the information requirements for class 3 rockets; categorization of class 1 and class 2 rockets; the "within five miles of any airport runway" restriction (one concerned rocketeer, Jennifer Ash-Poole, said her club "has launched within 8 miles of Camp David, with a NOTAM, without any problems, even when the president was there"); other items.

    And as we always say here on SLP, everyone who did not comment loved every word of the NPRM.

    In an interesting late submission, which FAA/AST graciously posted anyway, Michael Aherne, who describes himself as having "worked extensively on these rules" while at AST and subsequently left for grad school, calls the comments "absolutely excellent," and includes in his comment a "summarized rewrite" of the proposed rule "incorporating all the comments I agree and disagree with." (Maybe AST should hire him back?)

    Yes, amateur rocketry is exciting, It's outdoorsy, social, educational, and you get to say things like "ballistic coefficient" just to keep the lawyers scratching their heads. (And if you have technical questions as we await FAA's final rule, don't send them here, shoot over to
    Dick's Rocket Dungeon.)

    * * *
    IMAGE CREDIT: Alamogordo Rocketry Club.

    UPDATE: By the way, I just added to my Netflix queue October Sky, a film based on the book about hobby rocketry, Rocket Boys. And here's some interesting trivia on this film, via Wikipedia: October Sky is an anagram of Rocket Boys. Apparently research by Universal Pictures found women over 30 would not go to see a movie titled Rocket Boys, so the film company "changed the title to be more inviting to a wider audience." [Hmm. I thought the title was a reference to the Sputnik launch. Well, in any case, as a "woman over 30" I'm just glad they didn't worry enough about me to change the name of Spider-man.--JL]


    Got space law CLE credits?

    U.S. lawyers sure must be covering their continuing legal education credit requirements with classes in not so far out legal subjects like patent licensing, qui tam, the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act, hedge fund regulation, animal rights, anything but space law. I know I am. CLE space law courses and seminars remain rare. In fact, so far I've only had opportunity to blog about one, presented early last year by the Pennsylvania Bar Association's CLE institute, and it sounded excellent.

    Well here is a bit of welcome news about a few more millennium-ready CLE providers currently adding space law to their repertoires:

  • CLE International has announced a new conference, Space Law: Beyond International Treaty Law (12 credits) taking place Dec. 10-11, 2007 at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, California. The program will be chaired by Rachel A. Yates of Holland & Hart, and features an excellent panel of space law and industry experts. Topics include remote sensing laws and policies (yes, Prof. Joanne Gabrynowicz will host that panel), exports controls, space tourism, satellite regulations and issues, weaponization of space, new roles for NASA, lots more. School uniform optional.

  • Colorado Bar Association offers a full-day 6 credit CLE seminar on Aviation and Space Law, Nov. 15, 2007 in Denver (with video replay scheduled for Dec. 7th in Colorado Springs and other locations). Of course when air law and space law are linked on a program, traditionally air gets top billing and most of the attention. But among the panels on air crashes, corporate aviation transactions, environmental issues affecting aviation, etc., I do note a lone morning panel, "What's New in Space Law," presented by Rachel A. Yates.

    By the way, continuing legal education is not for American lawyers only. I did not hear about this one in time to announce it but over in Sydney, Austria, the Lawyers Reform Association presented a
    space law CLE seminar in September 2006, which included Dr Michael Green, director of the Australian Government Space Licensing and Safety Office (SLASO) and other presenters. Impressive.

    If you know of others space law CLE resource (webcasts, lectures, conferences, etc.) currently scheduled or in the works, send me a heads up and I'll post about those too.

    And keep hittin' those law lessons. Enjoy your nonstop endless ongoing and continuing legal education which, to paraphrase Robert Frost, essentially consists of "hanging around until you've caught on."

    * * *
    IMAGE: Don't recall where I got this, but thanks to the artist.

  • 9.14.2007

    Google Moon Money

    By now everyone has heard the way cool announcement out of Wired NextFest about the Google Lunar X Prize. The planet may look forward to the first privately funded spacecraft to land on the moon.

    (Of course, at
    last year's NextFest when Virgin Galactic unveiled its mockup of SpaceShipTwo, the commercial spacecraft that will take humans suborbital, you could see that the robots running around the convention center were looking a bit jealous of the humans. This year at NextFest the humans might seem a little envious, since the Google Lunar X Prize will send to the moon only lucky robotic rovers....)

    Alan Boyle reports on the
    prize; Space Prizes blog has this roundup; and Clark Lindsey considers some whys and why nots in connection with this exciting contest.

    It's Friday so I'll link one YouTube
    promo video (approx 8:13 min).

    And now that the prize is open and the news has orbited the globe (with official web sites in Spanish, Russian, French, German, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Portuguese and Italian), anyone even remotely interested in revving his or her moon rover in this competition has seen the Google Lunar X PRIZE
    guidelines which include the basics: "To win the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a team must successfully land a privately funded craft on the lunar surface and survive long enough to complete the mission goals of roaming about the lunar surface for at least 500 meters and sending a defined data package, called a 'Mooncast', back to Earth."

    But here on SLP, before potential clients even ask, we think it's not too soon to start reviewing the black letter official rules. Or is it? Well apparently yes. The organizers have posted this note: "Official Rules for the Google Lunar X PRIZE are undergoing a formal vetting process wherein government agencies, space agencies, and the public at large will review and provide comments on the rules before they are finalized. Please refer to our competition guidelines." Oh. OK, we'll check back and look forward to commenting on those contest rules.

    For now, go for it, lunar jockeys! We await your mooncast from somewhere near Tranquility Base. And to paraphrase JFK, we choose to go to the moon not because it is easy, but because it is hard, plus it pays 30 million bucks. (Although you probably have to be Elon Musk to figure out how to make a profit from that. ;)


    Satellite TV hacker fines limited

    I've been blogging at times noisily about satellite radio (not the programming, the merger), so for a change, here's a decision out of the Ninth Circuit yesterday for you satellite TV law buffs.

    Satellite TV Hacking Illegal But Not a $100,000 Offense, Court Says
    (Wired, Sept. 11, 2007)

    Users of illicit decoding technology who have hacked into DirecTV satellite signals are not liable under a certain provision of the Federal Communications Act that calls for hefty, $100,000 fines, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

    The decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said section 605(e)(4) of the act cannot be charged against individuals who have altered or purchased reformatted smart cards to acquire DirecTV for free. That statute, the court ruled, was meant to financially injure companies that produce and sell such pirating technology and was not directed at end users as DirecTV alleged

    "Congress intended to treat differently individuals who played different roles in the pirating system," a three-judge appellate court panel wrote in its 2-1 decision.

    The decision, if it stands, could have widespread implications, as DirectTV regularly sues hackers.

    Jason Schultz, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation that filed a friend of a court brief in the case, applauded the court's decision. "The court said the assembling and manufacturing prohibition is meant for commercial entities or other upstream providers, not for individuals who simply plug a card into a box to get TV," he said.

    "You can't have this huge $100,000 hammer for individuals that was meant for businesses, and people making profits," Schultz added. "What DirecTV was arguing was that anybody who tweaks their access card is liable for up to $100,000."

    Still, the court said the two convicted hackers in the case are still liable under section 605 (a) of the Federal Communications Act for unlawfully pirating television. Maximum fines per count are $10,000.

    DirecTV did not return calls seeking comment and whether it would ask the San Francisco-based appeals court to rehear the case or petition the U.S. Supreme Court to review it.

    In dissent, Judge Eugene Siler said the bigger fines should apply. The act, he said, "does not limit its application to manufacturers and sellers."

    Here is Judge B. Fletcher's opinion: DirecTV v. Huynh and DirecTV v. Oliver.

    EFF also posted an MP3 of oral argument along with various briefs.

    The statute at issue was
    section 605(e)(4) of the Federal Communications Act.

    And yes, DirecTV's legal maneuvering in connection with this issue proved let's just say unpopular among many. EFF along with the Center for Internet and Society Cyberlaw Clinic at Stanford University Law School co-sponsored a website at
    DirecTVDefense.org "to help people defend themselves," saying, "People who intercept DirecTV’s satellite signal are breaking the law. However, DirecTV’s cease and desist letter campaign does not distinguish the legitimate users from the thieves." The help site argues that "legitimate computer scientists, technology workers, and hobbyists . . . are being harassed by DirecTV's no holds-barred slash-and-burn legal strategy."

    Over at CNET News, Declan McCullagh applauded the ruling:
    "DirecTV faces setback in dubious antipiracy campaign. Good." I think he's right.

    (I don't see a public comment on this by DirecTV. Will update if the company appeals; although getting to the High Court would not be too likely.... Meanwhile, here is the company's site for "information concerning criminal and civil actions brought by DirecTV against those who fraudulently obtain DirecTV programming...")


    The last thing Rocketplane needs

    Building the space vehicles should be the hard part.

    It is unclear how things are going on the technical side, but financially speaking, it's been a hard, bumpy ride, of late, for Rocketplane Kistler.

    As Rocketplane continues
    "'working on possible cures' for the funding crisis" that prompted NASA to issue formal notification on Sept. 7th that the space agency would terminate the company's COTS agreement for failing to meet financial milestones, Rocketplane now finds itself smacked with a lawsuit by a disgruntled space tourism marketing company over, of all things, money.

    I have not seen the complaint, but today the Chicago Tribune reports that Abercrombie & Kent, "which contracted to market and reserve flights on a planned suborbital space plane has
    filed a $3.4 million lawsuit against its partner" alleging that the rocketship company "has stopped all work on the project." (That would be RkP's XP vehicle project, not Rocketplane's K-1 business, which is what is at issue on the COTS side.)

    According to the Tribune, "Abercrombie & Kent says it spent $1 million drawing up a marketing plan for the zero-gravity plane only to see Rocketplane Kistler's corporate board move in April to abandon the project, according to a lawsuit filed recently in DuPage County Circuit Court."

    The Tribune (which couldn't resist the rather tabloid-y headline, "Space tourism in limbo, suit says") reports Rocketplane business development associate George French III "denied that the company has abandoned the project," and said, "We've been moving forward...." (Perhaps the "new configuration" of the Rocketplane XP reportedly to be unveiled at the X Prize Cup could serve as evidence of that.)

    And French charged Abercrombie & Kent is "trying to weasel out of the contract." (I'm not sure if this was meant to suggest a counter suit by Rocketplane. In any case, apparently the contract included a mediation clause, or the parties had agreed to mediation, but unfortunately that option fell through although it would have been most advisable for a company trying to find money to build expensive space vehicles not foot bills for costly litigation.)

    I'll predict this settles. But whatever happens in the lawsuit, it is a first. Indeed, space tourism appears certainly to have arrived as a real business if space transportation companies are wrangling over millions in fees with their space travel marketing firms....


    Space law classes in Noordwijk

    Goede dag! While the European Centre for Space Law's (ECSL) 16th Summer Course on Space Law and Policy takes place this week in Noordwijk, the Netherlands (Sept. 3rd through 14th), here's a little something by way of consolation for those of us not there: a good selection of video presentations from last summer's program, which also took place in lovely Noordwijk, the Euro seaside resort known for its beaches and bulb flower fields.

    Slides from the talks are included in each video. (Some of these presentations may seem familiar -- I've posted about this ECSL offering before, and it's definitely worth another go; click on the above video link for the full menu):

  • Bradford Smith, Alcatel: talks about intellectual property rights an the patentability of orbits and frequencies.
  • Jerome Bequignon, Directorate of Earth Observation of ESA: on the International Charter of Space and Major Disasters and disaster management.
  • Prof. Ray Harris, University of London: discusses earth observation data policies internationally.
  • Prof. Frans van der Dunk, University of Leiden: discusses legal issues in space tourism.
  • Dr. Jean Clavel, head of the astronomy division of the Directorate of Science Programme of the European Space Agency: not a law lecture, but a talk aout our universe and introduction to ESA's science programme.

    Enjoy. There won't be a quiz later.

  • 9.07.2007

    Friday Flybys - 9.07.07

    I'd love to sip a hot latte while waiting for a space flight at this cool terminal. (I couldn't tell from the designs released this week but hopefully there will be a Starbucks at shiny new Spaceport America. ;)


  • Spying begins at home?: Not so fast. After a hearing yesterday on "Turning Spy Satellites on the Homeland," chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) of the Homeland Security Committee, along with other irate-sounding lawmakers, sent a letter to Michael Chertoff calling for a "moratorium" on planned expanded domestic use of military satellite imagery by DHS's new National Applications Office until "the many Constitutional, legal and organizational questions it raises are answered." However the Wall Street Journal reports today a DHS spokesman said the "objections are unlikely to stop the rollout of the program next month."

  • Big brother and Big Boss?: Never mind domestic spying, how about super intrusive background checks? Twenty-eight personally offended scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have brought a lawsuit against NASA in connection with purportedly ask-anything employment background checks. (Via NASA Watch)

  • (From our "Something better to do with satellites than spy on Americans" file)... Space radio merger tidbits: XM and Sirius this week certified they are in substantial compliance with the government's Second Request (under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act for you antitrust novices) (and that monster filing must have blown the last precious weeks in August big time for some poor young associates; Mel Karmazin estimated photocopying alone cost $1 million, which should surprise no one who's ever worked on a Second Request...); Former FCC Chairman Mark Fowler has a piece in The New York Sun voicing his support for the merger; while Congressman Rick Boucher (D-VA) sent his thumbs up in a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. (Hat tips, Orbitcast)

  • Keeping it clean: Of course NASA and the Outer Space Treaty want to keep harmful bacterial on Earth, thank you. (Nature.com)

  • Drunk astronauts and other urban legends: NASA Watch covers this week's hearings in connection with the Astronaut Health Report, etc. In light of findings, Mike's assessment appears correct. As I've blogged, I did not believe the drinking stories in the first place and am no longer paying attention. (Hiccup.)

  • January 2009 and beyond: Mike Snead sets forth his ambitious ideas and goals for our nation's next spacefaring administration. (First thing, all candidates should read the The Space Review each week. ;)

  • NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale blogs about financial management at the space agency. (Via SpaceRef) And anytime Shana (who is, last we checked, still a lawyer) would like to guess blog on SLP, she is most welcome...

  • In light of yet "another unwelcome delivery of hydrazine from Russia" in Kazakhstan, (by the way sincere condolences from SLP on the loss of the Proton rocket and Japanese satellite) Clark Lindsey has a few words about ELV's.

  • A lawyer in Montreal wishes to be one of the first tourists to visit a space hotel. Go for it, counselor. (And yes, Fadi now knows I am a lady, not a "gentleman." Even if I must say so myself. ;)

  • Vogue: Who will be the first space lawyer to have his or her image included in Harvard Law School's Legal Portraits Online collection? I have a few suggestions... (Send me yours or forward them to Harvard.)

  • Space lawyer as president?: Um, no. But the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog uncovers this perhaps frightening fact about lawyers as leaders of the free world -- 25 of 43 US presidents have had law degrees. And after a bit of intrepid reporting, SLP can now confirm this: none of these individuals was a space lawyer. But the millennium is young.

    (Further, Law Blog reports, the "three leading candidates in each party have law degrees and most have practiced law" -- that's Clinton, Edwards, Giuliani, Obama, Thompson, Romney. Again, not space law. Not even
    on TV. And what does this tell us? You decide.)

    Have a great weekend, everyone.

    * * *
    IMAGE: Boarding soon.

  • 9.06.2007

    ABA Forum on Air & "Other" Law

    It's time for the second of the two annual meetings of the inimitable and very sociable ABA Forum on Air & Space Law, this time at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee Oct. 3–6, 2007. As we recall back in February, forum members gathered in Washington, DC for their first annual meeting of 2007. (Yes this group is so hooked up it doesn't need Facebook.)

    As we see from the agenda for Memphis, true to the name of the forum,
    as always, air comes first. Expect aviation focused keynotes, air law topics for most of the panels, and air industry types as sponsors, too.

    On the bright side however, as is typical at forum gatherings famous for their quaintly lopsided air law to space law ratio, space is not completely shall we say lost in the clouds; we do find these two excellent panels devoted to, you know, the "other" thing:

    Commercial Human Space Flight, moderated by Tracey L. Knutson of Knutson & Associates with Michael Gold, chief legal counsel of Bigelow Aerospace; Jeff Greason, president, of XCOR Aerospace; Laura Montgomery, senior attorney, Office of the Chief Counsel, FAA and Alex Tai CEO, Virgin Galactic.

    And then, Making Money in Space: Issues, Applications and Law, moderated by Prof. Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz of the University of Mississippi School of Law, with panelists Rick C. Crowsey, president, Crowsey Incorporated; Pamela L. Meredith of Zuckert, Scoutt & Rasenberger, LLP; Sa'id Mosteshar of Mosteshar Mackenzie; Franceska O. Schroeder of Fish & Richardson, P.C.; and William L. Warren, senior V.P. and general counsel of GeoEye.

    Indeed, some top flight space folks there. (Since Tracey is leading the early space law panel, perhaps she'll be the first to mention that 2007 is the 50th anniversary of the space age? ;)

    By the way, if you're around on Saturday, Oct. 6, take the bus trip offered to Oxford, Mississippi for a tour of "the Historic Ole Miss Campus" which of course is home to the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air, and Space Law. Perfect. (But don't try to apply for that
    research counsel position while you're at the Center because I think Prof. Gabrynowicz already hired someone. And she is picky.) The tour will also feature civil rights as well as Civil War history, a visit to historic home of writer William Faulkner, and, for fans, a college football game: Louisiana Tech vs. Ole Miss Rebels. (My money's on the Rebels. ;)

    As to hope for the future of the ABA forum ... as we've said here on SLP, in the 20th century air law was cool; but in this millennium, space law will, you know, breeze right by it. Hold on to your helmets.


    NYC Taxis Strike Over GPS

    That's right, in the middle of Fashion Week and the U.S. Open, NYC taxi drivers have mounted a two-day strike to protest a city plan to require GPS tracking in cabs.

    As the New York Taxi Workers Alliance explains,
    complaints about GPS from some of our otherwise easy going, open minded and clearly tech-smart NYC cabbies, include new and completely uncalled for intrusions into driver privacy in that "GPS will automatically tell the TLC [New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission] where you were at what time, how many fares/trips per shift, when you’re off-duty and how much money you’ve made."

    Outrageous. Tracking city taxis on public streets, in this day and age? Now how can a cabbie in this town take a nice detour (some tourists want a little extra sight-seeing with the meter running, right?), grab a nap, or do whatever else a hard-working cab driver does that's work related but absolutely none of TLC's business?

    Well never mind the fashionistas and tennis fans slumming it on the subway today, let's hope the TLC and drivers get this dispute sorted out in time for the Satellite Investment Summit as well as SATCON taking place here in town next month. Lots of cabs will be needed, and by folks who like a bit of GPS with their ride.

    Meanwhile, perhaps we should bring back those ol' horse drawn streetcars? GPS not included.


    Nebraska Space Law Program to Liftoff

    Looks like the cornhusker state's space law dreams are coming true. The University of Nebraska College of Law's new LL.M. program in space & telecommunications law has gotten the green light.

    As the University confirmed: "the program was unanimously approved by the Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education. Earlier, it had also been approved by the University of Nebraska Board of Regents and the law faculty. Both of those votes were also unanimous. Finally, the American Bar Association has acquiesced to the program. The ABA approves only J.D. degree programs, but their acquiescence was required to ensure that the new program did not interfere with the College's current J.D. degree program."

    Congratulations from SLP to the law school and Professor Matt Schaefer, director of the new program. Matt took a few moments via e-mail to give us some details; he writes: "We will begin accepting applications sometime in November for a first year LL.M. class beginning Fall 2008. Required courses in the 24 credit degree program include space law, national security space law, international law, telecommunications law, international telecommunications law, researching space law, and a thesis requirement as well.

    Students will have the opportunity to take 3 elective courses as well. We hired Marvin Ammori, previously at Georgetown, as our telecommunications law professor. We are in the hiring process for additional space law professors."

    And Matt says lots of good stuff and a new web site are in the works. Almost makes me want to go to law school again. I said almost.

    Meanwhile, Matt also reported that the law school's first space law event in March, which included General James Cartwright, former Commander USSTRATCOM and now vice-chair of the joint chiefs of staff as keynote speaker, was "quite successful for a first year conference." He said selected articles from the conference will be appearing in the Nebraska Law Review and the journal Astropolitics." I'll look forward to those. And yes, another conference is on tap for the Spring of 2008.

    More updates from Nebraska to follow.

    For now, go space

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