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.

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