U.S. Government In Space

July 29 marked the 59th anniversary of the signing of the National Aeronautics and Space Act (which created NASA) by President Eisenhower.

A recent question for government operations in space: the launch (pun intended) of a new military division, the “U.S. Space Corps.” The controversial idea has both its supporters and detractors at all levels.

Fun fact: there’s already a Wikipedia page.

Ownership of the Moon

When I spoke on space law the day after the 48th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, this article was making the rounds about the legal status of claims to outer space, including moon-related artifacts.

Here’s a recent update about a group working to get the UN involved in designating certain lunar areas as heritage sites.

These are fascinating, ongoing issues that, as one can see, are making the news regularly.

Hat tip to Ed for sharing the initial article with me. His book is available on Amazon.

A special shout out also to my fellow panelist Wayne White, who has written extensively on this topic (pdf).

Update: Luxembourg Get Serious About Space Mining

I posted a couple weeks ago about Luxembourg’s developing legal framework for private space exploration (specifically, mining space resources); the law went into effect today, August 1 (with at least one news outlet reporting it is more liberal than the 2015 SPACE Act provisions as it eases domestic registration requirements). Reuters has a report out that the country is coming out swinging, courting companies and looking to make deals even if the technology is a few years away. Two notes from this article: (1) it notes one measure of the cost of launching 1 kg of weight from Earth into orbit (and argues these costs can be brought down by recycling rocket and satellite components), and (2) offers this fun quote at the end from the Economic Minister: “In 10 years, I’m quite sure that the official language in space will be Luxembourgish.”

 

 

Japan Joins the Private Space Race

Recently, Japanese private space company Interstellar Technologies Inc. has joined the private space race. While their rocket, Momo, failed to reach outer space* (shutting off after losing contact shortly into flight) it marks a major attempt by another country’s domestic aerospace industry to join the revolution in private, commercial space flight.  The English version of their website is here.

Setbacks are bound to happen, but the hobbyists-turned-corporate effort is still a significant step as a country with major space ambitions enters the private space age. Notably, the launch was significantly cheaper than those of the public Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

*The question of where outer space begins is an interesting one for scientists and lawyers alike. The boundary is generally agreed to be 100 km (about 62 mi) above Earth’s sea level. Here’s one description of the “Karman line.”

Panel at FreedomFest 2017

A small break from posting while in the midst of a career transition, but I wanted to thank the producers of Freedom Fest for inviting me to speak on their panel about the private revolution in space. It was an honor to join Edward Hudgins, Wayne White, and Fred Stitt for a very interesting conversation.

Edit: I link to some of Ed’s and Wayne’s work in a subsequent post.