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Michael Listner, Sunday, 10-26-14 October 26, 2014

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Michael Listner, Sunday, 10-26-14


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Guest:  Michel Listner.  Topics:  Drones, air traffic control, NASA, SpaceX, patents, reusability, property, space law & 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 show for a wide ranging discussion on space law issues.  During the first segment of our 95 minute show, Michael started by addressing the NASA program to develop an air traffic control system for drones.  We spent the first part of this segment talking about the system, what it might be like, the partners working with NASA on the plan, the role of the FAA, and related items.  Part of this discussion focused on the need for regulations as Michael said without some regulations there is chaos.  The trick is to balance the regulations to maintain safety and order but also to enable commercial growth.  In this segment, we talked about the Dream Chaser challenge to the decision by NASA re commercial crew with the awards going to Boeing and SpaceX.  To help us understand the appeals process, Michael cited the recent KC-X tanker deal which Boeing appealed and ultimately won the contract.  Michael then updated us with as much info as is known re the SpaceX-AF litigation over the bulk buy, then we talked about the patent dispute with Blue Origin and SpaceX regarding a reusable system meant to land on a barge.

In the second segment, the issues of space property rights & the Asteroids Act came up.  Michael had some interesting observations that he shared with us.  Let us know on the blog what you think about property rights & the Asteroids Act.  A listener asked Michael about the prevailing law should a criminal act be carried out on a spaceship.  Michael explained what would happen if such an event happened in space.  Our guest was asked if he thought the midterm election would make a difference in space policy,  Listeners & I then asked Michael what to look for regarding the balance of this year and into 2015 concerning space legal issues.  Note what Michael pointed out to us.  His concluding comments addressed the need for proper space law to facilitate commercial space growth & exploration.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog.  You can reach Michael through me.


1. DDAY - October 31, 2014

I have not listened to this show yet, but I won’t let that stop me from opining here.

We (the NRC) recently completed a study on establishing a national research agenda for autonomous aerial system. In addition, I am currently undertaking a study for the FAA on a research plan on the certification of new technologies for the National Airspace System. There are some thorny issues involved in introducing drones into the NAS and unfortunately for the FAA, things are happening far faster than they are normally able to deal with.

As an example of the issues and where regulation may play a role, consider the fact that larger drones all have different ways that they respond to a loss of communications. Some of them climb in order to regain a line-of-sight to the ground station. Others immediately turn around and head back to the last location where they had communications. And some of them immediately go into autonomous mode and head back to base. Keep in mind that currently NO unmanned aircraft systems have equipment that allows them to sense and avoid other aircraft (the Navy is developing this for a maritime patrol aircraft that will operate far out to sea, but it is a difficult technology).

So now imagine that you have congested airspace around a large airport. Imagine that a drone that is operating off to one side of the airport loses communications and it immediately starts climbing to regain it–and climbs right into the path of a 737 that is coming in to land at the airport. Or imagine that the drone is climbing away from the airport and loses comm and immediately turns around to go back to base–and turns into the path of another plane that is climbing out of the airfield.

You can see the value of having standards and regulations for operating such systems in the airspace. Without them, these aircraft could do all kinds of unexpected things and cause accidents.

I would also add something that has often gotten lost in all the enthusiasm about drones that we now see in the press: their accident rate is very high. The military crashes large ones on a regular basis, and they have a lot of experience with operating them. Now imagine what happens when new aircraft and new operators start flying them in populated areas.

They have a lot of potential, but they also have a lot of reliability issues and no current standards.

Michael J. Listner - November 12, 2014

It would be informative if Dwayne was invited back on the Space Show to talk about this. From his comment above it seems he is more knowledgeable than I on this topic. What say you David?

2. Michael J. Listner - October 28, 2014
3. Michael J. Listner - October 28, 2014

David asked me during the program about an update on the Space X/USAF . According to this article in Space News the Air Force is expected to decide by November 1st whether it will mediate with Space X.

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