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Michael Listner, Monday, 8-25-14 August 26, 2014

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Michael Listner, Monday, 8-25-14


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Guest:  Michael Listner.  Topics:  Space law, ARM & property rights, SpaceX-AF litigation, RD-180 engine & more.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com.  Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See http://www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.  For those listening to archives using live365.com and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience.

We welcomed Michael Listner back to the program for this update regarding specific space law issues and theories.  In the first segment of the this 1 hour 48 minute program, Michael talked about the proposed Asteroid Bill in Congress and how to maybe get some limited property rights for asteroid mining by being able to move a small asteroid as in the NASA ARM project.  Michael theorized that if one moves an asteroid, its no longer in its natural orbit and then no longer defined as a celestial body.  We spent most of the first segment and a good part of the second segment discussing this theory and why it might work.  When asked if it would apply to lunar property rights or other space property rights, Michael was clear that it only applied to a small asteroid that could be moved.  He also said it would require an administration to endorse such a plan and that it would be difficult to establish as customary and it would certainly be an uphill effort.  BJohn and others sent in email comments about this.  As you will hear from BJohn’s emails which I read on air, not every thought positively about Michael’s idea.  Michael also talked about other forms of international agreements being much easier to obtain than treaties.  He also said the property rights policy battles would be fought diplomatically.

In the second segment, we talked about the SpaceX-US Air Force litigation and the AF Motion to Dismiss.  Next, we covered the RD-180 rocket motor issue and Michael noted that a new shipment of RD-180 motors had been received.  He also said there was new information suggesting Russia might want to expand the mission time for the ISS (http://www.parabolicarc.com/2014/08/25/russia-agree-iss-extension).  Property rights and moving an asteroid came back as a topic in this segment & Michael again talked about treaties which he said were top down in policy making while transparency, etc. was considered bottom up policy making.  We talked quite a bit about property rights being US one sided and he said that the Asteroid Bill actually enabled those outside the U.S. to put their projects under U.S. law for U.S protection.  We moved on to cubesats and oversight/regulation issues.  Near the end, Michael updated us on the Code of Conduct in which there should be another draft emerging in the near future.  As the program was drawing to a close, I asked Michael for remaining 2014 legal issues that might get a 2014 resolve.  We looked forward to early next year & our guest commented on issues involving Russia, China, and ESA.

Please post your comments on TSS blog above.  You can reach Michael through me or using the email address he gave out on air as the program was ending.


1. Dwayne Day - August 27, 2014

There’s a problem with this idea of using ARM for legal purposes that did not come up on the show. It may seem rather arcane, but it is nevertheless important: there is currently no person or organization within the executive branch that would/could take the lead on this. When was the last time you heard about a space policy decision coming out of the White House? There is no Space Council, and high-level policy decisions like this (which cross agencies, including NASA and State) were primarily handled within the National Security Council. Technically, they still are, but I haven’t heard about any activity on civil space at the NSC. Currently, the only executive branch agency paying much attention is the Office of Management and Budget, and the only thing they care about is controlling costs on NASA missions.

Somebody in the administration would have to pick up the flag on this issue and run with it, but the administration seems to have spent its five minutes addressing civil space during its first term and (like all other administrations before it) is ignoring it during its second term.

Michael J. Listner - August 27, 2014

I believe I did comment in a round-about way that in order for this or any space property rights legal regime to be implemented would require the support of the Executive Branch and become part of the U.S. National Space Policy.

Dwayne Day - August 28, 2014

You did say that it will require that. My point is that right now there is no person or organization in the executive branch that is actively doing civil space policy–so there’s no there there.

Michael J. Listner - August 28, 2014

Agreed, and I wouldn’t expect it out the current Administration if nothing more that this is its last term. This is something to consider for the next Administration and its version of the National Space Policy; however, whether or not establishing private property interests in extraterrestrial bodies/resources becomes part of the next Administration’s policy depends largely who is advising the next President.

2. J Fincannon - August 27, 2014

Another thing mentioned on the program was whether contact binary asteroids were considered one or two celestial bodies. It should be realized that when these asteroids became “contact” was likely 10’s-100’s of millions of years ago. Consider the odds of two asteroids ever coming into contact in the vastness of space, but way back when, before all the matter in the coalescing solar system got gobbled up by the planets, there was more of an opportunity.

3. apolloflags - August 27, 2014

From what I have read, the robotic part has been designed to be flexible at this point as to the exact launch vehicle.


The robotic part of the ARM is…. “Capable of launch on SLS, Falcon Heavy, Delta IVH and Atlas 551, assumed direct launch on SLS, FH or DIVH”
“Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission Reference Mission” — Brian Muirehead, NASA JPL

“All performance numbers in metric tons and assume Falcon Heavy. More mass would be returned when using SLS.”
“Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission Alternate Approach — Dan Mazanek, NASA LaRC”
“Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission: Robotic Boulder Capture Option Overview” (AIAA 2014-4432)
“Falcon Heavy, Delta IV Heavy, or SLS 1B launch vehicle” : “Interplanetary Trajectory Design for the Asteroid Robotic Redirect Mission Alternate Approach Trade Study” (AIAA 2014-4457)

The crewed part of ARM is intended to use SLS/Orion.

Michael J. Listner - August 27, 2014

That was my understanding too: that SLS was only required to boost the Orion for rendezvous with the capture vehicle.

Dwayne Day - August 27, 2014

A recent presentation on this subject at the Small Bodies Assessment Group, see page 5, “Delta IV Heavy assumed” for the mission: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/sbag/meetings/jul2014/presentations/1030_Wed_Muirhead_ARM_OptionA.pdf

4. B John - August 26, 2014

I think that Michael Listner’s ideas about future property space law still need some work. But as an analyst of existing space law and politics I find him to be highly competent and his views most relevant.

My opinion is that asteroids and parts of the Moon don’t need any property law in our time. No one has moved or grabbed anything of it yet. If it once get crowded, only then law making about it will become meaningful. I hope mine and others’ comments don’t discourage visionary new ideas on that subject today. I just think that for now, no idea is the best idea.

Michael J. Listner - August 26, 2014

Thank you for your comments. I would agree that time may not be ripe for property rights in space at this point, but it’s good to keep the topic open and discuss ideas so that the ideas for granting property law in outer space evolves in parallel with the technology to take advantage of extraterrestrial resources.

Again, thank you for compliment.

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