Friday Flybys - 6.29.07

(I tried. But I seriously could not resist swiping this hot image for the Flybys. Thank you PopSci.)

Yes, in light of all the buzz this week about Orbital Outfitters' new
xtreme sport idea, -- or, if you prefer, backup suborbital safety feature -- (if Rick Tumlinson and Jonathan Clark do it, we'll follow), maybe I should call this post Friday Divebys? Nah...

OK, before we space dive into the weekend...

  • High Court silent on space law: A flurry of opinions released this week mark the end of the US Supreme Court's term in which the Justices decided 68 cases and surprisingly, not a single one involved space law. Not even a footnote. (However, losing counsel for the respondent in the now notorious "Bong hits 4 Jesus" case, which my pal Bob Ambrogi over at Legal Blog Watch said "may well have been the most blogged case of the year," probably wish they had practiced space law instead.) Visit SCOTUS blog for a Supreme Court roundup.

  • Big companies and SBA contracts: The American Small Business League, (which won a FOIA court fight with NASA in February) now asserts (worries? charges? alleges?) that under the new Small Business Administration policy, "NASA can continue to include awards to firms such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin in their small business contracting statistics until the year 2012." Of course, we can wait and fact check this on GSA’s Federal Procurement Data System. Meanwhile, for an idea of how SBA addresses some of these concerns, see this May 11, 2007 fact sheet on the new re-certification policy which goes into effective June 30th. SBA says "large businesses taking contracts that have been set aside for small business isn’t a real factor" but admits to several scenarios that account for contracts to big companies being counted as small business contracts: small companies that get long-term contracts grow into big companies; large companies acquire small companies with long-term federal contracts; etc. And yes, "some contracting agencies enter their contract data into the federal database incorrectly as awards to small businesses." Really. For the record, this is not just about NASA and the aerospace industry. Clearly, folks were dropping the small business set aside ball. One wonders what took SBA so long to come up with this smart new re-certification policy? (And we'll watch to see how fast the federal procurement regulations are revised to reflect the new rules.)

  • Speaking of NASA, I trust everybody's been following the saga and latest NASA budget stuff on Space Politics and NASA Watch (and reading Shana Dale's blog, right?) so I won't link individual posts here.

  • Yes, while Shana communicates via her agency blog (which Mike Griffin doesn't read), NASA prepares to implement its new strategic communications plan. (Are we ready for "NASATube" and "NASApedia"?)

  • The International Law Association’s 2007 Regional Conference takes place at the University of South Africa in Pretoria, August 27-29, 2007. I did not note this in the hot summer space law dates roundup, but I'll quickly mention it here since the programme does include one panel related to space, with Prof. M. Hofmann of the University of Giessen, titled "Environmental criteria as a condition for space activities of non-state entities." (But I have no idea what that means.)

  • Virtual reality space lawyers: In The Space Review this week Jeff Foust reports that NASA Ames director Pete Worden (known in Second Life as the avatar "SimonPete Raymaker") says of virtual and collaborative space, "As we move forward, it just means that we have a job for a lot of lawyers." Remind your avatar to thank him. ;) (And what is Jeff Foust's avatar's name?)

  • Japanese space tourism insurance: $1M policy for $50k. (Hobbyspace)

  • Far side of the moon: It's not too early to book your cool $100 mil circumlunar mission with Space Adventures.

  • This is still not a space law case.

  • And if you find yourself held prisoner on JetBlue ("The airline that is afraid to fly") don't call a space lawyer. (However, the happy space diver pictured above may have some suggestions for you about what to do. ;)

  • Oh, and lest I forget:

    Big congratulations to Bigelow Aerospace on the Genesis II launch! To quote Mission Control in Las Vegas when it made contact with the spacecraft, “We got it!"

    To our friends north of the border, happy Canada Day, July 1, 2007.

    Finally, I'm not an almun but happy graduation from this Bronx girl to the hardworking kids at
    Bronx Aerospace High School.

    Have a great weekend, all. And unless you're really, really, really bored, don't watch any silly videos of
    people lined up outside the Apple store in NYC waiting to buy an iPhone. But if you do get an iPhone, call me.

    * * *
    IMAGE: Nick Kaloterakis via PopSci. Love this.

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