Translation please, Virg? ;)
UPDATE: And here is Mr. Pop in another clip. This time I clearly heard the phrase "Outer Space Treaty" (which, interestingly, sounds exactly the same in Romanian).
OK, back to summer surfing the Tube.
In the new commercial spaceflight industry, naturally, this happens all the time.
Just another example, AP (via MSNBC) reports on one of the ISDC sessions in Dallas in which air and space lawyer Doug Griffith (that's a picture of him in a flight suit which I swiped off his website), an experienced military and private pilot who has litigated his share of aviation accidents, advises space tourism companies to "lobby for immunity legislation and, if there is a crash, be contrite and treat victims' families well."
Here is an example of the type of legislation Doug is talking about: Virginia Spaceflight Liability and Immunity Act (effective July 1, 2007).
Doug also advised, "companies can protect themselves from lawsuits by advertising the dangers of space travel — but that might turn off customers." Indeed. (On the other hand, it might also turn on some....)
By the way, if you missed him at the conference, you can listen to Doug on The Space Show talking about spaceflight liability, waivers and lots of juicy insurance issues. (April 3, 2007)
The article also quotes Alex Tai, Virgin Galactic chief operating officer -- much cooler than a lawyer -- who also spoke at ISDC about the "inevitable disaster." (Which you my interpret as either a crash, or litigation after a crash.) Alex said he believes space tourism companies can survive it if they warn passengers of the risks the spaceship could crash. He said "customers who are given an honest assessment of the risks will not be able to successfully sue operators after a crash. And he noted "the public understands the danger of space travel after two disasters involving NASA-operated space shuttles."
Friends of Buzz
(Sure Buzz and the Professor are old pals. But does our astronaut hero know Glenn is now poised "to sire a race of immortal robot lawyers"? Quick - everybody into your spacesuits!)
Friday Flybys 5.25.07
Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend. And if you're not too busy (and especially if you are), try at least a few of these 50 ways to space out, from Air & Space magazine.
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IMAGE: That's me on my moon farm. No, it's one of the winning entries (category: lunar) from the NSS Space Settlement Art Contest, "Eden Crater" by Alex Aurichio.
New Euro Space Policy
The breakthrough of the new policy, put together after two years of work by the European Commission and the European Space Agency, is in the creation of a unified European framework, integrating the policies and approaches of individual EU member states as well ESA.
As ESA head Jean-Jacques Dordain said: "Today we have made a giant leap. For 40 years Europe has realised important projects ... but what's new is that this space policy is going to integrate 29 European countries."
ESA's announcment today includes these highlights of the policy:
The European Space Policy aims at fostering better coordination of space activities between the EU, ESA and their respective Member States, to maximise value for money and avoid unsustainable duplication, thus meeting shared European needs. Increased synergy between civil and defence space programmes and technologies is also addressed by the ESP.As to the importance of the policy for space business, Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy, said: "Without the European Space Policy, Europe could become irrelevant. With this Resolution on the European Space Policy, we intend to live up to Europe's global leadership aspirations in important industrial and research areas, which will provide growth and jobs for the future. Moreover, space has always been a source of inspiration which helps people to think outside and beyond the limits and to innovate. Today's proposal marks a milestone, to ensure that Europe does not miss out on the important opportunities that space technology offers."
The new policy calls for ensuring sustainable funding for space applications, in particular the flagship initiative Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES). It also recognises that space is a high value-adding sector, a driver for growth, innovation and employment and a valuable opportunity provider for European industry.
Moreover, the European Space Policy supports the EU's external relations, insofar as the EU, ESA and their Member States will put in place a coordination mechanism to develop a joint strategy for international relations regarding space activities.
And for more Euro space policy background and documents to keep anyone in space policy heaven, here are Europe's key documents related to space, including the Green Paper, not to be confused with the White Paper, followed by the EC-ESA Framework Agreement and much more.
I'll watch for good analysis of Europe's announcement from serious space policy wonks. Meanwhile, SLP says congratulations to Europe on achieving this new approach to space matters.
Working with FAA
On Monday I flew to DC to meet with AST to discuss my draft experimental permit application and to attend the Experimental Permit workshop. After this series of meetings I'm feeling pretty good about the paperwork side of the process. AST did not ask for anything that was at all unreasonable. The comments to my draft application were entirely reasonable and I'm very hopeful that my next submission will be judged as "Complete enough" to start the 120 day permit clock. Now back to actually building a vehicle capable of competing.Good to hear its going smoothly, and not at all surprised. (And if chief regulator Patti and the crew have any helpful materials to offer from the workshop, which I understand covered the pre-application consultation, requirements for obtaining a permit, the environmental process, a permitee's financial and other responsibilities, compliance and safety, hazard analysis and more, we would love to see those on the website.
Paul who has "been working diligently" on his FAA filing, noted last month: "It's up to about 50 pages and I still have at least one hard section still to develop." He said, "I will publish what I submit and any official correspondence from the FAA here. I will not be publishing the rough drafts and the E-mail back and forth as I don't want to inhibit the communication."
Looking forward to whatever Paul posts on this. For now, along those lines -- for our edification and enjoyment -- as I discussed here, FAA/AST has published a sample reusable suborbital rocket experimental permit application for a hypothetical RLV company named BlueSky (no relation to Blue Origin). Check it out.
By the way, busy as he is putting everything together for XPC, Paul also mentioned making some Unreasonable Rocket tee shirts. Looking forward to those too ;).
(Hat tip: Dick Stafford.)
Instead of Friday Flybys this week, here's a small bankroll of recent items I've been meaning to post from the world of space finance... (Shall we say Frugal Flybys? Nah.)
Noted space lawyer Art Dula brought up a common concern for the aerospace industry—export control—and suggested new space companies should consider moving offshore in large part because of it. "I would argue today that the United States is not the venue of choice for a person who wants to start an aerospace startup company," he said. As an alternative, he suggested the Isle of Man, a Crown dependency of the UK that offers space companies based there a zero-percent tax rate, as well as less-onerous export controls. That company would then contract with an independently-established American company to do business in the US.
Dula also pointed out that while the US has the best-developed space law of any country, there are still a number of key uncertainties in space law and treaties. "We don’t have any definition of where space starts. We don’t have any definition of what, for example, a ‘celestial body’ is. We’re not exactly sure what a ‘space object’ is; it’s not well defined," he said. "So there’s a great deal of law that we’re going to have to rework over the next few years as this becomes a real business."
Here, here. More work for space lawyers. (And watch this blog for more on Isle of Man space law.)
Have a frugal weekend ;)
A few more quick items --
You know what makes this bird go up? Funding makes this bird go up.
He's right. No bucks, no Buck Rogers.
--The Right Stuff (1983)
Spring for COMSTAC
To tide us over until AST posts a roundup of presentations and slides from the meetings, a look back at the minutes of the Oct. 2006 full committee meeting (and for a hardcore minutes-heads, an archive of all the minutes since 1997), along with a collection of materials from the October gathering.
For those unfamiliar with COMSTAC, a quickie overview: the committee of course was established in 1984 to provide "information, advice, and recommendations" to FAA "on matters relating to the U.S. commercial space transportation industry." COMSTAC has four working groups (Technology and Innovation; Launch Operations and Support; Risk Management; Reusable Launch Vehicle Development). Here's the current roster of hot shot committee members. And for the SLP record, if you please, COMSTAC's charter (U.S. DOT/FAA Order 1110-124E) (which naturally provided for the committee's operation in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, 15 U.S.C Appendix II, Pub. L. 92-463; 86 Stat, 770). More on COMSTAC's work to come. Happy Spring.
Summer Course on Space Law and Policy
The 16th ECSL Summer Course on Space Law and Policy will take place at the ESA ESTEC facilities in Noordwijk, The Netherlands, as last year, from September 3th to 14th 2007.
One of ECSL’s most successful activities is the ECSL Summer Course on Space Law and Policy. This is organised by ESA with the support of a host university (1992 Messina (Italy), 1993 Toulouse (France), 1994 Granada (spain), 1995 Aberdeen (United Kingdom), 1996 Leiden (The Netherlands), 1997 Rovaniemi (Finland), 1998 Brest (France), 1999 Geneva (Switzerland), 2000 Cologne (Germany), 2001 Nice (France), 2002 La Rochelle (France), 2003 Leuven (Belgium), 2004 Graz (Austria), 2005 Terni (Perugia, Italy). The Summer Course attracts participants from an increasing number of universities.
During the two-week course students attend intensive lectures given by university professors and space professionals concerning the international legal framework of space activities. These include UN Resolutions, space treaties and other legal issues relevant to space applications such as the commercialisation of space activities, telecommunications, remote-sensing, launching states, intellectual property rights, etc.
The deadline to send in the registration form is May 31st, 2007.
And keep in mind ECSL's criteria for student selection. (Personally, I would be ineligible: too old, I gather. Ah well, young enough to blog about it.--JL)
The I Word
An insurance-savvy SLP reader sends over this interesting recap of the 14th International Space Insurance Conference, held in Milan, March 22 - 23, 2007.
A bunch of space-smart lawyers gathered at the event, and I've excerpted the recap to highlight the lawyers' presentations. (But read the whole thing if you're into insurance. And who isn't? Obligatory Pat Bahn quote at end of post...)
"The legal panel was moderated by Mr. Rudolph Vic Pino Jr., partner of Pino & Associates LLP. Mr. John A. Ordway, partner at Berliner, Corcoran & Rowe LLP, was the first to speak. He addressed the International Traffic in Arms Regulation in the USA and reported about the progress of the State Department in clearing up the backlog of the last year, although ITAR restrictions in exporting and re-exporting technical information regarding satellites are still a hurdle to a prompt settlement of the claims and heavily interfere with the arbitration phase. Moreover, when an applicant for a Technical Assistance Agreement (TAA) seeks approval to export preparatory data, the State Department may ask him to obtain the approval of the owner, thus forcing him to disclose his strategy. Coming to reinsurance, when a technical issue that may have ITAR implications arises regarding a commercial space-related reinsurance policy, the easiest way to obtain authorisation is usually for the insurer to request that the U.S. person who initially obtained the TAA seeks the State Department approval of an amendment to the TAA. Unfortunately, many US persons who hold a valid TAA are unwilling to have it amended to the described purpose, as they are liable for any violation a party to the TAA commits. In conclusion, to a certain extent ITAR makes resolution of a commercial space-related reinsurance issue complicated and time consuming, but if well-managed it should not preclude resolution of any such issue.
Stephen Tucker, Senior Partner at Mendes & Mount LLP, expanded on the US regulation of space tourism. It is known that starting in 2009, Virgin Galactic plans to commercially fly 500 passengers per year at costs ranging somewhere between $ 100,000 and $ 200,000 per passenger to an altitude of roughly 68 miles, offering about 6 minutes of weightlessness. On February 13, 2007, the US Federal Aviation Administration adopted final rules for space tour operators, which will apply to American companies launching from anywhere in the world and to foreign companies launching from US land. The rules require: (i) passengers to be informed in writing of risks, including death; (ii) passengers to accept a "fly at your own risk liability regime", as they will be legally required to waive liability claims; (iii) mandatory training for passengers; (iv) specific qualifications and training for crew besides informed consent of crew itself; (v) crew waiver of claims against the US government; (vi) the licensee to demonstrate no significant environmental impact and an acceptable level of safety to the general public; (vii) the licensee to cover the Maximum Probable Loss to third parties in the event of an accident in compliance with the general legislative framework regarding traditional commercial launches.
Nicholas Hughes, partner in the Aerospace Department at Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, presented a speech about the main topics of the space insurance sector from a legal standpoint. Unquestionably, the space risk is a catastrophic one, as it is more likely to happen in the first phase of the life of the satellite. Moreover, insurance has a price that may not always be affordable for the operators. Even if generally speaking there is no mandatory insurance in the space sector, some compliance issues may arise from time to time (in respect of liability towards third parties and governments) and affect the choice to buy insurance. Most of the time the choice whether to buy insurance or not is mainly a commercial decision. The biggest operator may easily afford self-insurance, especially when they can rely on sufficient capacity and technical redundancy in their fleet.
The finance panel was moderated by Peter D. Nesgos, partner at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP...
Tim Hughes, Chief Counsel at SpaceX, outlined the activity of Space X, an emerging launch services provider which has currently three launches contracted with NASA to ferry cargo and crew to the International Space Station under the Cots program....
Finally, Sean Gates, Senior Partner at Gates and Partners, expanded on the legislative framework concerning space activities in the private sector. International law doesn't cater for commercial launches, such a situation being very similar to the one of the aviation industry at its beginnings. Some air law rules may also probably apply to the space flights, but it is unclear which ones and to which extent. As for passenger liability, for example, the Montreal Convention provides for strict unlimited liability up to 100,000 special drawing rights, while in the space sector the Liability Convention 1967 may be inadequate in regulating the new commercial activities. Time is possibly ripe for a new international convention on the new frontiers of space business...."
And remember, as Pat Bahn of TVG Rockets says, most quotably, "Amateurs talk propellant, professionals talk insurance." Indeed. (See also, The Space Review, March 27, 2007, among other places.) I'm beginning to believe it.
IMAGE: Courtesy of CartoonStock.
Space tourism law panel in India
This should be of great interest to spacetrotters everywhere. Take a gander and book your flights now. (And Mark, yes, save me some delicious biryani ;)
Tuesday, September 25 2007 10:10
Room: MR G0.6 (ground floor)
50th International Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space (IISL)
Coordinators Masson-Zwaan, Tanja
Legal Issues of Private Spaceflight and Space Tourism
Chairman Prasad, M.Y.S.
Chairman Von der Dunk, Frans G.
Rapporteur Datta, Partha Sarathi
- Responsibility and Liability: A Requirement to Change Our Perceptions
Mr. Anubhav Sinha, Luthra and Luthra, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
- Liability Principles & Launch From International Domain: Resolving a New Twist in the Tail
Abhishek Dubey, Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur, India
Loree Sonchhatra, Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur, India
- The Fortieth Anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty: Is it Time to Look More Closely at Private Enterprise?Prof. Steven Freeland, Sydney NSW, Australia
Ms. Donna Lawler, Corporate Counsel, SingTel Optus Pty Limited, Sydney, Australia
- Legal Issues of Commercialization of Space ActivitiesMrs. Xiaoyu Zuo, Astronaut Center of China, Beijing, China
- Private Enterprise Liability for Space Servicing
Dr. Antonio Morato, Universidade Sao Marcos, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Dr. Ijar M. Da Fonseca, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE), Sao
Jos´e dos Campos, Brazil
- Orbital Space Ports: Their Operating Procedures and Legal FrameworkDr. Alvaro Azcarraga, SENER Ingeneria y Sistemas, S.A., Madrid, Spain
Elisa Gonz´alez Ferreiro, CEDE. Spanish Center for Space Law., Madrid, Spain
- Air & Space Law Norms Governing Space Transportation
Dr. Paul Dempsey, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
- Space Tourism: Some Lessons To Be Learned From Its Brother ‘The Aviation Ssector’
Sagee Geetha Sasikumar, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
- Passengers Should Not Fly at Their Own Risk But at Some Risk: The Necessity of a Revised International Liability FrameworkLydia Boureghda, Lyon, France
- Duties and Liabilities of Space Tourist Operators
Zeldine Niamh O’Brien, Co. Dublin, Ireland
- Rescuing Space Tourists: A Humanitarian Duty and Business Need
Prof. Mark Sundahl, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH, United States
- Criminal and Disciplinary Issues Pertaining to Suborbital Space Tourism Flights
Michael Chatzipanagiotis, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
- The U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations: A Hazard for the Uninitiated in the Private Spaceflight and Space Tourism Industries
John Ordway, Berliner, Corcoran & Rowe, L.L.P., Washington DC, United States
- UNIDROIT System of Asset Based Financing for Space Activities: The Need to Plug the LoopholesProf. Ishwara Bhat, University of Mysore, Mysore, India
Sandeepa Bhat, International Institute of Space Law, Mysore, India
- The Proposed International Registry On Matters Specific To Space Assets: The Task of UNIDROIT
Dr. Luis Castillo Arganaras, National Council of Scientific and Technical Research
(CONICET) of Argentina
Friday Flybys - 5.4.07
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I'll make this quick so I can go out for a toast (or two).
(By the way, notice how Clark is cutting back. In a parallel universe. Somewhere.)
Speaking of all this, I heard my name over at the Rocket Dungeon in connection with a legal question about NASA and advertising, but while I got busy doing the research, looks like Dick may have gotten a bit distracted...) (Saved by the scantily-clad rocket ladies again.)
For now, happy Space Day, Law Day and all other kind of days. Especially weekends. ;)
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IMAGE: By Ryan Glenn, Greenville, SC (winner of last year's Space Day national t-shirt art contest).
Sample Experimental Permit Application
Well they have.
Here you go: Sample Experimental Permit Application for a Vertical Launch and Landing Reusable Suborbital Rocket with a crew. (74-page PDF) This sample application illustrates "acceptable means, but not the only means, for demonstrating compliance with Experimental Permit application requirements."
FAA's hypo here (reminds me of a law school exam): The fictional company BlueSky Aerospace "wants to develop a reusable vertical launch and landing rocket to be flown for the purpose of research and development. BlueSky seeks an FAA Experimental Permit to conduct its research and development tests within an operating area located south of SpaceCity, MyState. This potential operator proposes a two-tiered development program: 1) The short-term goal is to conduct launches, under an Experimental Permit, to 40,000 ft (12 km) and 328,000 ft (100 km) with a crewed suborbital rocket; 2) The long-term goal is to develop an operational reusable suborbital launch vehicle capable of carrying one pilot and two paying passengers to an altitude of 100 km in order to experience about four minutes of zero gravity. BlueSky will seek a Launch License to operate this reusable suborbital launch vehicle."
The sample document demonstrates what BlueSky has to submit to FAA/AST to apply for an experimental permit under 14 CFR part 437. Take a look.
And here's a handy Word file of a Sample Experimental Permit Application Format, complete with citations to all applicable CFR section; again, it's not the required format, just a helpful example. As FAA gamely instructs, "an applicant may use any other logical and complete format."
FAA has 120 days from accepting a completed application to make a determination as to whether to issue the experimental permit. If the agency finds the application is incomplete, or finds "issues exist that would negatively affect a permit determination," it will notify the applicant in writing.
It's legal stuff, not exactly rocket science. Building the rockets is the cool part.
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UPDATE: Don't forget FAA's experimental permit workshop, May 16, 2007.