George Nield, acting AST chief
And yes, George will be officiating at next month's big AST event, the 11th FAA Annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference: Roadmap to 2015, Feb. 5-6, 2008, Crystal City, Virginia. Here's the agenda. Look forward to seeing George there!
(And if you can't wait to hear George talk, here is a great podcast of his most recent appearance on The Space Show, last July.)
Patti Grace Smith Rockets On
And find the translation in the text of FAA Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation Patti Grace Smith's talk, Space Means Business, which she delivered at the Washington Space Business Roundtable last month (Dec. 6, 2007).
Patti's resignation from FAA/AST (which Clark Lindsey first reported on HobbySpace on Monday) is official, and here, also via Clark, is the announcement, including a statement by Patti.
As we all know, Patti has worked in the commercial space arena at the Department of Transportation since 1994. (Ah, remember the ol' OCST?) Under her leadership at FAA/AST, the office's ground breaking work served both the public and nascent space transportation industry and launched private space regulation into the new century. We imagine Patti in the room the first time a federal government official uttered the phrase "commercial space" without smirking (in fact, she may have been the government official who uttered it). Today, her office and work serve as a model for private spaceflight regulators worldwide.
Here are some thoughts Patti shared in her talk last month at WSBR:
When I spoke at the Space Business Roundtable in 1999, Space Adventures Ltd was only a year old.
In 1999 Bigelow Aerospace was founded. So was XCOR. At that time, there was no Armadillo, no Blue Origin, no SpaceX or Virgin Galactic.
The X Prize had not been won.
The Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004 obviously had not been written. The FAA was not yet the agency in charge of private human spaceflight.
There were no regulations for experimental permits governing the testing of suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicles. There were no regulations governing crew and passengers on suborbital flights. Between 1999 and today there have been nearly 200 expendable launch vehicle launch attempts.
As the result of a steady and durable momentum … matched to a growing awareness of opportunities in space … all those things are now realities.
Spaceflight is changing. The wide circle of activity is expanding. Future vehicles will not all have “Property of the U.S. Government” stamped on them … whether they fly from the States … or from states overseas.
The fact is there is a private industry out there building the next epoch of transportation.
There are no parallels. Nothing compares. The new civilian spaceflight business is altogether different from predecessor carriers.
The genus might be familiar, perhaps the species, too. But this is the first time they’ve appeared together. In Latin … Volatus per inane homo privatus. “Spaceflight. Human. Private.”
Whatever space has been up until today, it is an emerging business now....
In an e-mail today, Patti told me, "My plan is to stay connected to space in some new capacity. I am very excited about exploring that and seeing where it takes me. I am fully committed to this industry and have much still to contribute."
Splendid. For now, we say best of luck to Patti! We look forward to news of her next, no doubt bold, steps. Meanwhile, we thank her for years of support and leadership in launching the new era of commercial space.
Now more than ever -- as Patti says -- space means business.
Space law attractions '08
The global space law adventure continues....
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Other dates to come include, of course, the 2008 X-Prize Cup and all the hot events associated therewith; the European Centre for Space Law's (ECSL) summer course on space law and policy (this year's will be the 17th, if I recall correctly), and other events not yet scheduled as of this post (or, events to which I have yet to receive my gilded, engraved e-mail invite... no worries, SLP's inbox never closes... ;), much more.
For now, here is the Manfred Lachs space law moot court competition 2008 calendar (Concordia and Landia v. Usurpia). Good luck all moot counsel.
And in between all this action, keep up with the lineup of spaceflights scheduled for launch in 2008 (Helmit tip: HobbySpace, Spaceports.)
Every nanosecond counts.
Last Flybys of '07
(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).
Let the countdown to 2008 begin. ;)
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IMAGE: NASA - cluster of stars known as NGC 2264, the "Snowflake cluster" in the cone Nebula. Beautiful.
Space seasons greeting
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
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:
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.
Prospective clients and others, send inquiries, comments, requests, song lyrics, etc., to Frans at firstname.lastname@example.org. And now if you'll excuse me, there's a CD I must go download to my iPod....
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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
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
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
(And I still want one in my backyard.)
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IMAGE: Illustration for entrance to Spaceport America.
New SIA chair
(The departing chair, Nancy Eskenazi, vice president and associate general counsel of SES Americom, is also a lawyer.)
No spaceport district, no tax
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
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
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 LawSites.)
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.
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.
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IMAGE: Peter Nesgos of Milbank; Rosanna Sattler of Posternak.
Zero G, Zero Tax in Virginia
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
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"
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.
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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
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
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
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.
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IMAGE: Courtesy Firstscience.com.
Congress is expecting us.
Quoting 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
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.