Former Top Federal Regulator to Fly on Unregulated Spaceship

Jeff Bezos pins Blue Origin astronaut wings on actor William Shatner. (Credit: Blue Origin webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The first three passenger flights of Blue Origin’s New Shepard have been long on symbolism. On the first one, Jeff Bezos invited Wally Funk, who in 1960 was one of 13 women who underwent the same medical checks as the Original Seven Mercury astronauts. NASA wasn’t accepting female pilots at the time, so Funk had to wait 51 years to reach space.

New Shepard’s second flight included starship Capt. James T. Kirk, or more precisely, the actor who played the “Star Trek” captain, William Shatner. The third flight had Laura Shepard Churchley, the daughter of America’s first astronaut to fly to space, who launched aboard a vehicle named after her father, Alan.


Mercosur United by Space Law

BRASILIA (AEB PR) — The Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) participated in the closing ceremony of the course on “Law and Cooperation in the Space Area”, promoted by the Organizzazione Internazionale Italo-Latino Americana (IILA), this Thursday (2). The course was held between November 9th and December 2nd, and was aimed at space agencies and professionals from Mercosur countries. The event was attended by the president of the AEB, Carlos Moura, as well as directors of space agencies from several countries.

“We have a lot of synergy, many challenges and goals in common, with which we can work together to bring solutions and progress to our peoples,” said Carlos.


Brazil Modeled Updated Launch Licensing on FAA Regulations

Alcantara launch complex (Credit: AEB)

BRASILIA, Brazil (Brazil Space Agency PR) — The Brazilian Space Agency (AEB/MCTI) published Ordinance No. 698, of August 31, 2021, which institutes the Regulations for the Licensing of Space Activities Operator and for Launch Authorization in the Brazilian territory. The rules referring to the authorization of launch operations were published in 2002, making it necessary to update their rules.


Report: China Could Follow South China Sea Strategy in Seeking Space Resources

Optical Mining of Asteroids, Moons, and Planets to Enable Sustainable Human Exploration and Space Industrialization (Credits: Joel Sercel)

Continuing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we examine how China is seeking to shape the governance of space activities. [Full Report]

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China’s actions in asserting sovereignty over the disputed South China Sea could serve as a model by which that nation would claim extraterrestrial resources and consolidate its control over key space assets, a new report to the U.S. Congress warned.

“Contrary to international norms governing the exploration and commercial exploitation of space, statements from senior Chinese officials signal Beijing’s belief in its right to claim use of space-based resources in the absence of a clear legal framework specifically regulating mining in space,” according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 report.


UNOOSA, Luxembourg Launch New “Space Law for New Space Actors” Project

LUXEMBOURG (Luxembourg Space Agency PR) — Today, at the margins of the New Space Europe Conference, Ms. Paulette Lenert, Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs and Ms. Simonetta di Pippo, Director of United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) signed a funding agreement to support UNOOSA’s new “Space Law for New Space Actors” project.

The “Space Law for New Space Actors” project will offer UN Member States tailored capacity building to facilitate their drafting of national space legislation and/or national space policies in line with international space law, promoting the long-term sustainability of outer space activities. Such capacity building will support in particular new and emerging space-faring nations to conduct space activities in a responsible and sustainable manner.


Cleveland State University Launches Space Law Center

CLEVELAND (CSU PR) — The rapid growth of the private space industry has increased the demand for lawyers trained in the complex international and domestic aspects of space law and policy. Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law is at the cutting edge of this growing field and is expanding its space policy initiatives through the creation of the Global Space Law Center. It is the first law school research center in the United States dedicated exclusively to the study of the law of outer space.

The Center will seek to train the next generation of space lawyers, to promote the development of laws and policies that promote the peaceful use of outer space, and to facilitate the growth of the commercial space industry.


A Video Primer on Outer Space Property Rights

Video Caption: A 1967 United Nations treaty states that outer space isn’t up for grabs.This hasn’t stopped at least one entrepreneur from selling land on our closest celestial neighbors. Scientific American editor Clara Moskowitz explains.

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House Approves Launch Liability Extension

Marcia Smith reports that Congress is back at work after the election and is actually doing something constructive:

The House passed H.R. 6586 today, extending for two years the government’s authority to indemnify launch services companies from third party claims for certain amounts of money resulting from launch vehicle accidents.

The current authority expires on December 31, 2012.   The bill was not controversial.  Only five Members — four Republicans and one Democrat — were on the House floor to speak about the bill.  All supported it.  The main theme was that the U.S. launch services industry needs a level playing field in order to successfully compete with other countries that indemnify their companies.

Under current law, launch services companies must purchase insurance to cover the Maximum Probable Loss as calculated by the Federal Aviation Administration to cover claims from the general public in case they or their property are damaged by a launch failure.   The government covers claims between $500 million and $2.7 billion.  The company must cover claims above that.

Read more here.

Noted Space Law Pioneer Passes Away at 102

Space policy and law pioneer Eileen Galloway
Space policy and law pioneer Eilene Galloway

Space-Law Pioneer Eilene Galloway Dead at 102
Aviation Week

Eilene Marie Galloway, who helped draft the legislation that created NASA and went on to become an internationally recognized expert in space law and policy, died May 2 of cancer. She was 102.

After the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 on Oct. 4, 1957, then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson (D-Texas), who chaired the Armed Services preparedness subcommittee, turned to Galloway in her role as a national defense analyst at the Library of Congress, for help in setting up hearings on U.S. preparedness in space. Those hearings led to creation of the Senate Special Committee on Space and Astronautics. Johnson later became President, shepherding much of the U.S. build-up.


Going Where No Law Student Has Gone Before… reports that law schools have now crossed over into the last frontier: space.

A student at the University of Mississippi will leap into the final frontier of the legal system Saturday when he receives the first-ever space law certificate in the United States.

Michael Dodge of Long Beach, Calif., earned the special distinction along with his law degree through the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law at the university’s law school.

Ben Bova: Outer space law? It exists, and restricts

Science fiction writer Ben Bova has a commentary in the Naples Daily News in which he calls for an overhaul of existing space law in order to encourage private ownership of extraterrestrial resources. He blames outdated laws for blocking space settlement, including that 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

The Rights Stuff: A Primer on Space Law

The Boston Globe has an interesting interview with Rosanna Sattler, the new chairwoman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Space Enteprise Council. Sattler, who heads the space law practice at the Boston firm Posternak Blankstein & Lund, discusses the complexities of the legal regime for space, including space diving and Virgin Galactic’s suborbital tourism plans.