Last Flybys of '07

Ah, the end of yet another year. Which serves to remind us: Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening all at once.

(It's not working.)

Before we ring in '08, a few late December flybys. (Also catch the
2007 year in space roundup on Cosmic Log -- and all the other annual overviews, lists, etc. linked on HobbySpace so of course I don't have to relink here).

  • COTS or Not? (I could do a whole COTS Flybys...): For now, the latest appears to be via a Brian Berger report in Space News (sub. req'd) that RpK will await the GAO's decision in February and hold off bringing suit against NASA over termination of the company's space act agreement. Meanwhile, I'm sure Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) has heard an earful about COTS funding cuts in the omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year 2008 (which the president has signed.) Alas, we will see what the new year brings, COTS-wise.

  • Mojave matters: I did not see the "amendments" to Mojave Air and Space Port's license issued by FAA as reported in the Antelope Valley Press last weekend (and picked up at the Rocket Dungeon) but hopefully the situation, whatever it was, is resolved. (But wouldn't it be great if FAA/AST chief Patti Smith had her own blog so that we may quickly clear up spaceport rumors and other questions without Instapundit having to step in?)

  • Speaking of government blogs: I do want to congratulate Shana Dale, the lawyer who is second in command at NASA, on her blog's public coming out. Shana's Blog is now open on NASA's shiny new webship. (I had complained that Shana's blogging was available to NASA employees while the rest of us had to wait for SpaceRef to pick up her posts.)

  • Speaking of the relaunched NASA.gov: Ahem. If you are not of the uber-cool demographic NASA aims to attract -- yes, the universally coveted, coddled and wooed 18-24 year old MySpacers again -- with the newly revamped web destination, widgets, blogs and all, count yourself at least implicitly uninvited from commenting on the space agency's refurbished and upgraded corner of webspace. Even though you paid for NASA.gov. (And really, who among us oldsters is entirely convinced that all this is just about youth appeal? Some may suspect the space agency is in competition with other world space agencies to have the coolest government agency website on the planet. Let's see what the response will be from CNSA. Yes, the government space web race is on!) So how much did all this new customization, interactivity and other digital fun cost us aging taxpayers? Never mind. Will it solve the agency's fiscal problems, stop tiles from falling off the shuttle, keep the fuel sensors functioning, or help US win the 21st century space race? Nah. But dude, check out these cool podcasts and videos. Awesome.

  • Saving Shuttle: here is the text of Rep. Dave Weldon's H.R. 4837, the bill to authorize flying the Space Shuttle from 2010 through 2015 that may have "a daisy's chance on the moon." (Orlando Sentinel; hat tip Space Politics). And Keith notes the gratuitous Russia-bashing in the bill. (Not to mention the swipe at ol' Hugo Chavez.)

  • NASA FY2008 budget: Jeff Foust summarizes space agency funding in the final appropriations bill.

  • Japanese space law: Don't miss dispatches from Hiroshi Kiyohara (who is admitted in New York and California and Japan -- great combo), guest blogging at Res Communis on the latest developments, here and here.

  • Lloyd's on space insurance: (And the obligatory Pat Bahn quote: "Amateurs talk propellants, professionals talk insurance." (Jeff can't resist it either. ;)

  • The Space Law Show - As I never hesistate to note, David Livingston loves lawyers. Two lawyers appear on The Space Show before the new year bells ring, according to the schedule: Today, Dec 28th, Dr. George Robinson, discussing his recent paper, "Public Space law, the Practitioner, and the Private Entrepreneur"; and on Monday, Dec. 31, Prof. Joanne Gabrynowicz will have a space law review and summary of 2007 developments. A treat for all. As always, the Show offers MP3's of all programs for download. I will certainly grab both for my iPod. (Am I the only one who listens to The Space Show at the gym?)

  • NASA adspace (meant to post this earlier, but just for the record): Buy it or not, the NASA Innovation Fund and Sponsorship Act, H.R. 4308, introduced by Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH).

  • ITAR relief? Believe it when we see it.

  • First big space law event of the new year: The Second International Conference on the State of Remote Sensing Law - Jan. 17-18, 2008, presented, of course, by the University of Mississippi's National Center for Remote Sensing, Air, and Space Law in lovely Oxford, Mississippi. Register here. (And many more noteworthy events to follow. I'll try to post a roundup of hot dates next week.)

  • Radio Astronomy deal: The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in the United States and the Max-Planck Institute for Radioastronomy (MPIfR) in Germany concluded a Memorandum of Understanding outlining planned collaborative efforts to enhance the capabilities of each other's telescopes and to expand their cooperation in scientific research. Good to hear.

  • Speaking of cooperation... Outer planet missions: NASA international cooperation with ESA and JAXA. (Leonard David's blog)

  • Looking ahead: 2008 launches. And Rob Coppinger says '08 is the year progress must be made in space. (Flight International via Spaceports.)

  • Texas space: In light of news about possible launches from Corpus Christi by Space Access, P.J. Blount looks at space law in the Lone Star State. (Meanwhile, down in Florida, if you are participating in one of those exciting and educational Space Access getaways in January, bring your swimsuit... not your spacesuit. Yet. And why not invite your favorite space lawyer? Welcome back Space Access!)

  • If you were waiting for Santa to bring us a decision on the proposed XM-Sirius satellite radio merger, no luck. Definitely before next Christmas. Well we hope. Meanwhile, FCC was busy easing the 32-year-old ban on a company owning both a newspaper and a TV or radio station in the same city. And, you know, other stuff. (And yes, XM got booted off the Nasdaq-100. Ouch. At least Sirius hangs in there.)

  • Speaking of mergers, you may not have heard it here first but the era of large satellite mergers is over.

  • I want my SpaceX IPO.

  • Not a space property dispute, but: That little controversy over a bit of Earth land ended last week when ISRO agreed to accept 70 acres allotted to it by the Kerala government to set up the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology.

  • Rocket club law: Dick Stafford has an update on club-based permits. Flying 'em should be the tricky part.

  • Carnival fever: I'm catching up with space carnys #32, #33, and #34... (As Robot Guy reported in #32, A Babe in the Universe was in NYC at the planetarium right in my 'hood, and took pictures. Just as well she did not visit me -- aka A Space Law Babe in the Universe -- because although I finally understand the rule against perpetuities, I'm still working on her famous GM=tc^3 equation. One day....)

  • Betting on the Google Lunar X Prize: This blog is not Space Wager Probe but I will note that yes you can speculate on Intrade whether the Google Moon contest will be won by 2012. (It's the only space-related item currently posted; find it under "Current Events" in the Prediction Markets menu.) (That is, if the presidential election is not interesting enough.) Let the Google Moon prize games begin..

  • Maybe it is only human to fall in love with robots. (As long as they're not space lawyer robots?)

  • No vehicle without a driver may exceed 60 miles per hour: And other strange state traffic laws... Right. We're sticking to space law.

  • By the way, the world's oldest practicing lawyer who finally died this year at 103 was not a space lawyer. (Of course, there's no saying whether practicing space law might have extended his life even more. However, he might have had more fun.)

  • Speaking of which, the lawyer who died this month allegedly from work-related stress was also not a space lawyer.

    Let the countdown to 2008 begin. ;)


    * * *
    IMAGE: NASA - cluster of stars known as NGC 2264, the "Snowflake cluster" in the cone Nebula. Beautiful.

  • 12.24.2007

    Space seasons greeting

    (To think there were no blogs back then on which to post this...:)

    As we recall every year, in response to the Christmas
    message from Apollo 8 (MP3) beamed to the planet by astronauts Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, Jr., and William A. Anders, as they orbited the moon in 1968 (reading from Genesis), Houston sent this reply:

    Twas the night before Christmas and way out in space,
    the Apollo 8 crew had just won the moon race.
    The headsets were hung by the consoles with care,
    in hopes that Chris Kraft soon would be there.

    Frank Borman was nestled all snug in his bed,
    while visions of REFSMMAT's danced in his head;
    and Jim Lovell, in his couch, and Anders, in the bay,
    were racking their brains over a computer display.

    When out of the DSKY, there arose such a clatter,
    Frank sprang from his bed to see what was the matter.
    Away to the sextant he flew like a flash,
    to make sure they weren't going to crash.

    The light on the breast of the moon's jagged crust
    gave a luster of green cheeses to the gray lunar dust.
    When what to his wondering eyes should appear,
    but a Burma Shave sign saying 'Kilroy was here.'


    But Frank was no fool. He knew pretty quick
    that they had been first; this must be a trick.
    More rapid than rockets, his curses they came.
    He turned to his crewmen and called them by name.

    Now Lovell, now Anders, now don't think I'd fall
    for an old joke you've written up the wall.
    They spoke not a word, but grinning like elves,
    and laughed at their joke in spite of themselves.

    Frank sprang to his couch, to the ship gave a thrust,
    and away they all flew past the gray lunar dust.
    But we heard them explain ere they flew around the moon:
    'Merry Christmas to earth; we will be back there real soon.'

    Joys of the season from Space Law Probe! ;)

    UPDATE: Just caught up with Clark's post from yesterday,
    Remembering Apollo 8, in which he links to Rob Coppinger's post on the Christmas Eve broadcast, along with a lovely poem by Major Michael A. Titre via Chair Force Engineer ("...With crew aboard and countdown done, Her engines roar in unison, Man's greatest venture has begun....") Yes.


    Black Holes and space law consulting

    Along with all the buzz about Professor Frans von der Dunk joining the faculty of the University of Nebraska's new space law program, we've also been hearing talk about the private space law consultancy company with the cool name Frans recently launched. So I sent a note to the professor asking if he would tell us a bit about, that's right, Black Holes.

    To which Frans graciously e-mailed (and I've added links, musical and other):

    "Of course. I established Black Holes B.V., my consultancy company in 2007 in order to accommodate the growing need for professional advise on international legal, policy and political aspects of outer space activities and their applications here down on Earth in the broadest sense of the word. It just sort of coincided with my recent move from the Leiden, Netherlands, based International Institute of Air and Space Law to the position of Professor of Space Law at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for the purpose of the Space and telecoms programme which will be offered as per the academic year 2008-2009.

    As for the consultancy company, I experienced that far too often in the context of major technologically-, operationally-, financially- or politically-driven space or space application programmes and projects far too little attention - or even none at all - was paid at the outset to outlining and analyzing the applicable legal, regulatory, institutional, policy and political framework. Such original omissions then turn out to work like black holes, sucking up unnecessary hours, efforts and resources, and I made it the mission of Black Holes precisely to provide timely professional advise and tailor-made tutorials, connecting the legal parameters and ramifications in a no-nonsense manner to the broader policy, political, economic, commercial, operational and technical aspects of any space activity or application, thereby allowing clients to avoid such black holes."

    Great concept. We all know that familiar black holes feeling. As Frans said, "To be honest, the name of the company was also inspired by a lyric from the epic song
    Shine On You Crazy Diamond of the rock band Pink Floyd, "Now there's a look in your eyes / Like black holes in the sky", courtesy Roger Waters, stemming from the the seminal 1975 album "Wish You Were Here". Pink Floyd have often been labeled the space rock band par excellence, their career being replete with references to outer space, the sun, the moon and other celestial bodies, including the Earth itself as a planet, in their sound, song titles, album titles and lyrics alike."

    That is music to our ears. ;)

    The services Black Holes offers clients include:

  • researching, analysing and evaluating the legal, regulatory, policy and political framework applicable to any space activity or application, and presenting the results thereof by reports and presentations;

  • conducting legal reality checks of proposed space activities or applications, and commenting on their legal, regulatory, policy and political ramifications, by means of reports and presentations;

  • providing advise and recommendations on future actions required or desirable to enhance any space activity or application, by means of reports and presentations;

  • developing, offering and monitoring tailor-made tutorials for professionals on the legal, regulatory, policy and political framework applicable to any space activity or application;

  • developing, offering and monitoring self-study programmes for professionals on the legal, regulatory, policy and political framework applicable to any space activity or application;

  • organising meetings and workshops to address legal, regulatory, policy and political aspects of space activities and their applications for selected audiences; and

  • addressing audiences on legal, regulatory, policy and political aspects of space activities and their applications.

  • Sounds like a comprehensive package for the space community. And it's about time. Given his wide expertise in international space matters covering the gamut from satellites to space tourism, Frans would be remiss if he did not turn up the volume, as it were, and open a 21st century space law consultancy company.

    Good luck, Professor.

    Shine on!!

    Prospective clients and others, send inquiries, comments, requests, song lyrics, etc., to Frans at frans@black-holes.eu. And now if you'll excuse me, there's a CD I must go download to my iPod....

    * * *
    IMAGE: I could not resist swiping this from the Black Holes website -- Prof. von der Dunk explaining space law to a delighted-looking Prime Minister Tony Blair. And come to think of it, we have a whole bunch of folks running for US president who could use Black Holes' advice too.


    Our kind of market insight

    Heh. UBS's moon market humor is making the rounds. (Now in WaPo and elsewhere, yesterday reported on Simberg's TransMu.)

    Yes, intrepid Wall Street
    analysts graphed an interesting metric: lunar land prices appear to be a "lead indicator of US house prices." (See the actual chart via Financial Times.)

    Never mind the sub-prime implosion, apparently lunar real estate prices began 2007 at $16 an acre and hit a high of $22.50. And this uptick for the moon land sector portends good news for beleaguered housing markets on the home planet in 2008.

    Naturally, here on SLP we are all bullish on lunar property. And while I can't necessarily explain mysterious Earth-moon market forces that may come into play (gravity and dark matter usually account for much), if you're thinking of selling your house and investing in a stack of moon paper, I can explain why there may still be time to make any number of
    2007 Idiot of the Year lists. ;)


    Weldon's mission to save the shuttle

    Here is a video of Congressman Dave Weldon (R-FL) yesterday at Kennedy Space Center announcing his proposal to keep the space shuttle flying after 2010.

    I have not seen the authorizing bill the representative from Florida’s Space Coast will introduce but he admits right off the pad he does not expect his measure to become law, but rather, says he wants it to spark a national debate over the issue. (But that may not happen either if by national debate he means the presidential candidates suddenly consider space a top campaign issue.)

    But politics is local, and so are jobs. Rep. Weldon's constituents of course include thousands of KSC workers who would naturally support the move (surprisingly there's no mention of the bill on the
    congressman's website as of this morning, where the "Paygo Farce" and Pelosi spending $16 thousand on flowers appear to be top stories; I'll check back).

    Hmm. Maybe Weldon should grab his bass guitar and bipartisan congressional rock band the Second Amendments, and go out on tour to ignite support for the shuttle? Here are the Second Amendments playing
    20th Anniversary of Farm Aid, and here's the band at the 2007 National Ethanol Conference, and they also amped it up in Iraq to entertain our troops. Why not a Save the Shuttle tour?


    We'll always have spaceports

    As we've seen, challenges include issues involving taxation, regulation, licensing, legislation, politics and more; and include the catastrophe of a fatal test accident. But Jeff Foust overviews developments on the spaceport front, from Mojave and New Mexico to Cecil Field and Corpus Christi, including Kiruna, Sweden and beyond, and writes, "It’s clear that many people still see great potential in the emerging NewSpace industry, despite the difficulties some companies have experienced in the last few years. Indeed, like many of the vehicle companies, some spaceports have had to stretch out their timelines, but are making slow and steady progress—enough, it seems, to encourage others not to be left behind." Spaceports still taxiing towards takeoff, The Space Review, Dec. 17th.

    (And I still want one in my backyard.)

    * * *
    IMAGE: Illustration for entrance to
    Spaceport America.

    New SIA chair

    Yes, it may be "old space" but lawyers and satellites go together. SLP congratulates Jennifer A. Manner, vice president of regulatory affairs for Mobile Satellite Ventures and adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center and American University’s Washington College of Law who was elected by the Satellite Industry Association (SIA) to serve as its 2008 chairman.

    (The departing chair, Nancy Eskenazi, vice president and associate general counsel of SES Americom, is also a lawyer.)


    No spaceport district, no tax

    No kidding. The spaceport sales tax the voters of Doña Ana County approved by referendum in April, to have commenced Jan. 1, 2008, must now go uncollected. As New Mexico Attorney General Gary King opined in a letter this week responding to a bit of understandable confusion, "the county regional spaceport gross receipts tax may not be imposed, collected or enforced absent the formation of a regional spaceport district to which the proceeds of the tax can be allocated."

    But no worries, spaceport tax supporters -- the AG wrote: "Because the County enacted the tax prematurely under the law, we conclude that the Taxation and Revenue Department may properly defer enactment of the tax until a district is created." That is, of course, under the Regional Spaceport District Act.

    What a country. Think of all the folks who would rather not pay new taxes but must. For some New Mexicans, it is ironic that the tax collector cannot take yes for an answer.


    Space project seeks Texas lawyer

    An SLP reader sends the following for posting:
    My name is Christopher Carson, and I am the instigator of the Luna Project, an effort to send humans to live on the Moon, as soon as 2012.

    Study of the issues has convinced me that this goal can be achieved with existing technologies, through direct support from the space-minded public, and will greatly contribute to practically any future space activity or application.

    I hope to see this adopted as an activity by existing space advocacy groups, and carried into practice without adding too much additional redundancy to a scene cluttered with overlapping groups of small membership. Nevertheless, it appears that some dedicated organization is required, particularly at this early phase.

    Accordingly, I am looking for a lawyer in the North Texas area to advise me on related legal matters -- specifically concerning the uses of the different classes of non-profit corporation, and the mechanics of their formation and maintenance. With any luck, I will find a lawyer who is not only experienced in this area, but also in sympathy with my proposal (less because he or she might be inclined to make allowances as regards to fees, than for the sake of the more helpful quality of the advice I could expect).

    My sincere thanks.

    Good luck, Christopher!


    Old and new space law practice

    While the Wall Street Journal's otherwise knowledgeable Law Blog still asks, What the heck is space law?, The National Law Journal, inspired by among other things, this year's series of space investment summits, weighs in this week with the news Space-related practices have lift-off (sub. required; although there's also a 30-day free trial but no worries, I borrowed a copy of the article for our edification; links to law firms added).

    OK, satellite business at top law firms is not exactly news, as Milbank Tweed partner Peter Nesgos (or Del Smith at Jones Day, or other telecom and satellite law gurus) can attest. But legal representation of space start-ups and space tourism related ventures is new, and it's the emerging focus that will shape new space law practice, as Rosanna Sattler of Posternak who includes in her client list Orbital Outfitters, already knows. (Of course space tourism is noted at the end of the piece, but that's because I didn't write it).

    Here is the article; and thanks for the heads up from Bob Ambrogi (cohort of mine from the bad ol' days of American Lawyer Media in the 1990's... don't ask. And when you finish the story zip over to Bob's famous

    The National Law Journal
    Dec. 10, 2007

    As investors and entrepreneurs convene this month for this year's third space investment summit, lawyers from a variety of firms say their space-related practices are taking off.

    Firms with lawyers or a group dedicated to space or satellite work say increased private-equity investment is a major factor fueling the sector.

    Other industry dynamics include the development of cellphones and other devices that can offer video and Internet connections, which require more satellite usage, and entrepreneurs pursuing space tourism ventures.

    Private equity's discovery of the satellite industry in the past four or five years had ramped up
    White & Case's transactional work, said Maury Mechanick, a counsel to the firm's Washington office. "It's been a darling of the private-equity industry," Mechanick said.

    About eight to 10 lawyers in the firm's telecommunications, media and technology practice group spend most of their time on space-related business. Most are transactional lawyers, but some have regulatory expertise, he said.

    Other firms with a foothold in the sector run the gamut from national firms such as
    Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker and New York's Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy to regional firms Dickstein Shapiro and Leventhal Senter & Lerman of Washington, Posternak, Blankstein & Lund of Boston, and Townsend and Townsend and Crew of San Francisco.

    Growth in orbit

    Lawyers are following the upward trajectory of the satellite sector. World satellite industry revenues grew by 65% between 2001 and 2006 to $106.1 billion. On the ground side of the business, operators of commercial teleport facilities and equipment — which send and receive satellite signals — are expected to collect about $15 billion in revenue this year, up 17% from 2004, according to an October report by New York-based World Teleport Association. Three investment summits sponsored by a variety of trade groups and nonprofits have been held around the country this year, including one in San Jose, Calif., this month.

    Private-equity investors' huge interest in the sector has also expanded Milbank Tweed's deal work during the past few years, said New York partner Peter Nesgos. Milbank recently represented financial institutions that funded Loral Space & Communications Inc.'s $3.25 billion acquisition of Telesat Canada, a deal that closed in late October.

    Canadian satellite company Infosat Communications Inc. has also been a client for years, "through quite a bit of financing and internal organization," Nesgos said.

    Once companies have financing in place or finish a mergers and acquisitions deal, Milbank assists with ongoing licensing and regulatory work, contract negotiation and insurance work. Bringing in other legal disciplines has boosted the firm's activity in the sector, Nesgos said.

    Six Milbank lawyers are dedicated to its space practice, with 20 other corporate, finance and litigation lawyers spending some time on work for the industry.

    "Where we've seen the growth is providing a broader range of legal services to our client base," Nesgos said. "That's been our success."

    Intellectual property firm Townsend is angling for more space-related business by providing legal advice and funding to new space trade group The Eighth Continent Project. Golden, Colo.-based Eighth Continent, which helps space-related startups find financing and business partners, launched in August, and Townsend announced its involvement last month.

    Townsend's current clients include satellite companies and inventors of products useful in space commerce, and it hopes to connect them with other companies for joint business opportunities through Eighth Continent, said Denver associate Gene Branch.

    "Townsend stands ready to assist all members of the Eighth Continent Project to protect intellectual property created for this rapidly expanding market." Branch said.

    Space tourism

    Posternak's Rosanna Sattler, who is also the chair of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Space Enterprise Council, said the nascent space tourism industry is boosting the firm's space-related business. Posternak's clients include Los Angeles- and Washington-based Orbital Outfitters Inc., a year-old company that makes civilian space suits.

    Posternak's space law team also includes a corporate lawyer and an international trade lawyer who specializes in helping space industry companies navigate international regulatory issues.

    "The hope is the demand for tourism will result in a number of different kinds of rockets that will be able to launch on demand," Sattler said.

    * * *
    IMAGE: Peter Nesgos of Milbank; Rosanna Sattler of Posternak.


    Zero G, Zero Tax in Virginia

    Virginia is at it again, moving forward with proposed ground-breaking new space law designed to boost commercial space industry. And what better way to encourage business than new tax breaks and incentives. As my pal Jack Kennedy reports over on Spaceports blog, Virginia's Zero G, Zero Tax proposal is on the agenda for endorsement today by the Virginia Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS).

    In a nutshell, the proposed bill, would "exempt state taxation on gross income earned from commercial spaceflight launches from the
    Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport and income gained from spaceflight training activities from a Virginia airport or spaceport."

    Here are the provisions (see
    bluelining on pages 7 and 22-23), (and yes some of the language initially appeared in an earlier draft of the historic Virginia Spaceflight Liability and Immunity Act which became law July 1 of this year):

    33. For taxable years beginning on and after January 1, 2009, any gain recognized from the sale of launch services to space flight participants, as defined in 49 U.S.C. § 70102, or launch services intended to provide individuals the training or experience of a launch, without performing an actual launch. To qualify for a deduction under this subdivision, launch services must be performed in Virginia or originate from an airport or spaceport in Virginia.

    34. For taxable years beginning on and after January 1, 2009, any gain recognized as a result of 169 resupply services contracts for delivering payload, as defined in 49 U.S.C. § 70102, entered into with the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services division of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or other space flight entity, as defined in § 8.01-227.8, and launched from an airport or spaceport in Virginia.

    22. For taxable years beginning on and after January 1, 2009, any gain recognized from the sale of launch services to space flight participants, as defined in 49 U.S.C. § 70102, or launch services intended to provide individuals the training or experience of a launch, without performing an actual launch. To qualify for a deduction under this subdivision, launch services must be performed in Virginia or originate from an airport or spaceport in Virginia.

    23. For taxable years beginning on and after January 1, 2009, any gain recognized as a result of resupply services contracts for delivering payload, as defined in 49 U.S.C. § 70102, entered into with the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services division of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or other space flight entity, as defined in § 8.01-227.8, and launched from an airport or spaceport in Virginia.

    Another first of its kind piece of state space legislation.

    Jack notes lawmakers who have agreed to back the proposal include House of Delegates democratic and republican caucus chairs, members of the House Finance Committee, as well as folks on the
    Virginia Aerospace Advisory Council. Going forward he says the bill is expected to be refered to the House Finance Committee for a hearing and an initial vote in late January. Thanks, Jack. And we will certainly continue to keep an eye on far-sighted pro-space lawmaking over in the Commonwealth.


    Mojave report corrected

    Leave it to Professor Reynolds:
    MOJAVE SPACEPORT UPDATE: Earlier I noted a report noted by Rand Simberg and several other space bloggers that the Mojave Space Port was in danger of closure by the FAA. I also emailed Patricia Smith, the FAA's Associate Adminstrator for Commercial Space Transportation. She responds: "The report is totally inaccurate."

    I'm very happy to hear that, and very grateful for the swift reply.
    We are too. Thanks, Glenn.

    UPDATE: I agree with Rand, at this time "a more expansive, and clarifying response" is in order. He quite reasonably asks, "What, if anything, is going on?" Indeed. Patti? Stu? More info please.

    Civil space policy and the "Spunik moment"

    Here is a nice little 30-pager of a stocking stuffer for that civil space policy lover on your holiday shopping list (and who doesn't fit that description?): U.S. Civilian Space Policy Priorities: Reflections 50 Years After Sputnik (Dec. 3, 2007). From the festive folks at Congressional Research Service, who else?

    I am not sure how much of this is at all revelatory, especially after all the nonstop Sputnik 50th anniversary reflection this year, but basically, CRS overviews:

    No Sputnik moment, Cold War, or space race exists to help policymakers clarify the goals of the nation’s civilian space program. The Hubble telescope, Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disasters, and Mars exploration rovers frame the experience of current generations, in contrast to the Sputnik launch and the U.S. Moon landings that form the experience of older generations. As a result, some experts have called for new 21st century space policy objectives and priorities to replace those developed 50 years ago.

    A Sputnik moment of course, is "a rapid national response that quickly mobilizes major policy change as opposed to a response of inaction or incremental policy change. The term is also used to question inaction — as in whether or not the nation is prepared to respond to a challenge without an initiating Sputnik moment."

    Well? Bring it on.

    * * *
    UPDATE: Here is a
    quick summary of the report, from Aviation Week. (Link via NASA Watch.) I am now ready for an eggnog moment.


    Mojave Spaceport Under FAA Scrutiny

    Following the fatal accident at Mojave Air and Space Port in July, a big question on the regulatory side was what if anything, would FAA/AST do?

    Less than a week after the
    tragic explosion during a test at Mojave that took the lives of three and seriously injured three other Scaled Composites workers, FAA/AST chief Patti Smith told Space News her office would defer to state authorities including California Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigating the accident who, she said, "indicate this was an industrial accident, a fuel-flow test gone terribly wrong."

    Smith said: "It was not a launch accident. It was not a flight accident. It was not directly related to vehicle performance or passenger involvement."

    But now her office wants more information from the spaceport. And Mojave's
    license, issued by FAA June 17, 2004, may be in jeopardy. Here is Leonard David's blog report:
    Looks like a battle brewing over future use of the Mojave Spaceport, home site for development of the suborbital SpaceShipTwo and other private space ventures.

    According to Bill Deaver, editor/publisher of the Mojave Desert News, an above the fold story in his paper [full text not available online --JL] is reporting that Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bureaucracy threatens the Mojave Air and Space Port.

    At the heart of the issue are requests for information apparently due to two explosions at the airport earlier this year. One of those involved propulsion/fueling equipment for the SpaceShipTwo program under development by Scaled Composites. That accident in July claimed the lives of workers on the project.

    The newspaper reports that Stuart Witt, General Manager of the Mojave Air and Space Port, has stated the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) has threatened to suspend or revoke their spaceport license.

    AST officials want information on fuels to be used in space vehicles currently under development at the spaceport, along with information on how far away the materials must be stored from other airport activities.

    Another AST demand, the newspaper also reports, centered on how local space operations would comply with national fire code rules. However, according to Witt, the newspaper states, information on fuels is not available as rocket groups at the spaceport are not that far along on their current design and development process.

    “I think it’s time for us to make a trip to Washington to meet with members of Congress,” the newspaper quotes Witt as saying.

    Sure to be more coming in the days to come on this spaceport situation.

    It's not clear what Congress might be expected to do for the spaceport. Given AST's well-earned rep for being uncompromising on public safety while, in equal measure, fair and supportive with the young an growing industry it oversees, there should be some hope for a positive outcome.


    Euro space station law

    As NASA prepares for liftoff of STS-122 scheduled for tomorrow, Dec 6th, the mission to deliver the European Space Agency's Columbus Laboratory to the International Space Station, Jeremy Hsu has a good overview of law on the 4.5-metre diameter cylindrical lab now tucked into cargo bay of the Space Shuttle Atlantis that is to be Europe's "biggest single contribution" to the ISS: Europe Lays Down the Law for New Space Lab. (Space.com)

    Take a quick read. After all, legal issues are bound to come up during 10-year projected lifespan of Columbus. Prof. Frans von der Dunk (who wrote the 2006 book,
    The International Space Station Commercial Utilisation from a European Legal Perspective) and others explain the simple Columbus lab legal basics of criminal jurisdiction, civil liability and intellectual property.

    And review the general
    legal framework for the International Space Station.

    By the way, ESA has a new
    Columbus Blog, posting reports on delivery of Columbus lab and throughout the mission.

    And of course, NASA's hot new webstation has
    all the latest on the mission.

    Godspeed Atlantis and Columbus.


    Just say no humans

    Want to really ban humans from Mars? In response to the anti-human provision in NASA funding bill HR 3093 ("Provided, That none of the funds under this heading shall be used for any research, development, or demonstration activities related exclusively to the human exploration of Mars...."), Michael Huang, for one, has some advice: "If the anti-human-spaceflight community is serious about eliminating humans in space, it should write a better law. And no messing around this time:

    Provided, That no funds shall be used for anything that has, does or will directly result in humans, human-derived beings or human-like objects existing at an altitude higher than 100 kilometers above sea level on planet Earth."

    Short of that, Michael, thinking like a pro-human space lawyer, suggests some clever ways to beat the ban of humans on Mars, should it become law (The Space Review).

    (And of course, human space explorers funded by, for example, China, or other nations, as well as non-NASA funded humans from the US and anywhere else, would remian free to go.)

    Meanwhile, I warn Michael, he's gonna get a lot of e-mail on this from some seriously irate robots.

    * * *
    IMAGE: Courtesy Firstscience.com.

    Coming Storm

    To our collection of holiday party dates and invitations, it's not too early too add, from ProSpace, the "citizens' space lobby dedicated to opening the space frontier," the 2008 March Storm Invitation.

    Congress is expecting us.

    ProSpace quoting Margaret Mead: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.


    The V-Prize Vision

    "V" is for Virginia. And Virginia is for space. Tune in to the Virginia Report, hosted by member of the Virginia House of Delegates, Ken Plum (36th District), for the videocast, Challenge to the Commercial Space Community, (approx. 28 minutes) featuring Washington, D.C. space and tech lawyer Jim Dunstan of Garvey Schubert Barer, along with Virginia "Teacher in Space" Megan Seals discussing newspace and the V-Prize. modeled after the Orteig Prize won by Charles Lindbergh and the Ansari X Prize won by Burt Rutan, this time the challenge is point-to-point suborbital spaceflight: "to create a vehicle capable of launching from Virginia and land in Europe in approximately a hour."

    Jim and Megan confirm the V-Prize rules will be released by late 2008. Jim notes that the long lead time item will be negotiations with foreign governments. "You can't announce the prize until you announce the destination." And Jim specifies the rules will be written as flexibly as possible "to let the genius that's out there flourish."

    Jim noted that unlike the X-Prize, for which the entrants were all start-ups, V-Prize has received interest not just from start-ups but established aerospace companies who are thinking in an entrepreneurial fashion.

    Customers of the technology are expected to include, for example, FedEx and the US military.

    What puts the state of Virginia ahead of the commercial space curve? For one thing, they've got Wallops Island. And Jim notes, of course, Virginia's groundbreaking
    Spaceflight Liability and Immunity Act calling it part of the equation for turning Virgina into "a gateway for a spacefaring nation."

    Lots more to come from the space Commonwealth. Stay tuned for V-Prize updates and other developments via Virginia space lawyer Jack Kennedy's Spaceports blog; and for a bit more background, see The V-Prize: one hour to Europe The Space Review, Aug. 27, 2007.

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