Broadcast 2943 Laura Montgomery, Atty

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

The Space Foundation Conference

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Guest:  Laura Montgomery;  Topics: Planetary protection with Art. 9 of the OST, Informed Consent, policy compared to law, science fiction, and more.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog,  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  For those listening to archives using 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 back to the show Laura Montgomery, Atty, to discuss Article 9 of the Outer Space Treaty (OST) and planetary protection.  For the first segment of our 89 minute program, Article 9 was the major topic.  To start with, Laura said that Article 9 while applying to government actors in space did not apply to the private sector actors.  Listen to this discussion to fully understand why Laura said this and where in Article9 of the OST the language exists to validate Laura's opinion.  Listeners via email and I asked Laura many questions about this plus various "what if" scenarios to help us understand what Laura was talking about.  This was a very important discussion so don't miss it.

We talked about Mars sample returns and the language in the treaty referring to "harmful contamination."  Laura was very clear in saying not everyone accepts her legal analysis and there were people associated with NASA and other organizations that held Art. 9 as applicable to the private actors just like it is with the government actors.  Laura also took time to strongly make the point that Congress needs to be specific in their regulatory language.   This may not always be the case and when that happens, things can get complicated.  Don't miss this important part of our discussion. 

Part of our discussion centered on litigation and the courts. We talked about federal court and the process involved in litigation. We also talked about which federal court a private actor might use for filing an action.  For this discussion, we used the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco as an example along with the federal court in D.C. 

Before the segment ended, the subject of space settlement was brought up by Alice in New Mexico.  Space settlement was discussed in the context of its potential legality under Article 9, the role of NASA with it, NASA acting as a regulator which it is not, and the application of launch licenses and could they be issued or denied by the FAA regarding a space settlement launch or another type of launch for that matter if the purpose of the launch was in opposition to Article 9 and the government actor applications. This was a complicated question and topic but be sure to listen to Laura take us through this type of scenario.  You might very well be surprised by her answer.  You might also be surprised to learn some parameters regarding the issuance of a launch license.

Before the segment ended, John from Ft. Worth called to ask about treaty law being the supreme law of the land but running afoul of our constitutional rights as spelled out in the constitution.  This was yet another excellent discussion with Laura at the helm and you do not want to miss a word of it.  We even discussed the legality of the president ending a treaty on his/her own without congressional approval. 

In the second segment, Laura started out with a comment about a president getting us out of a treaty without congressional support. During the break, she did a quick Google search on the topic and found examples of presidents doing this in our history.  She made it clear that her quick Google search should not be considered as definitive on the subject but that it had been done before and it stands if not opposed by congress or an interest group challenging the president in court.  Don't miss what she said about this.

Next, we turned to Laura's science fiction writings.  She told us about her storylines and work which sounds exciting.  You can find out about her books and science fiction work at her special website,

For most of the rest of our program, we talked about informed consent for spaceflight participants.  Laura explained it to us, said the guidelines spelled out in the regulations do a nice job of dictating what must be in an informed consent agreement.  She mentioned a few of those requirements.  We also talked about the new requirement for waivers to be signed by the companies and the spaceflight participants.  Don't miss what she said about the waiver issue as this is new based on the 2015 Commercial Space Law that was passed in late 2015.

Another topic I brought up dealt with the changes in the insurance protection based on our recent show with Tracy Knutson regarding insurance risk factors and denying adventure travel risk claims.  Human spaceflight has been considered a highly risky venture.  We talked about the possibility of families and others related to a participant being left without insurance protection should an injury or fatal accident happen.  We also talked about the participant having liability along with the operator in case of third party claims.  Laura helped us to understand the shared liability risk for the spaceflight participant.  We further clarified the difference in being a participant as compared to a passenger so don't miss this discussion. 

As the program was about to end, I asked Laura for her thoughts on the future of the OST as currently written.  She suggested most involved with it at this time do not want to change or modify it at this time.  She then explained her answer.

Before the end of the program, listener Jarod asked Laura what type of clients she has and what their space interests or challenges were given her former role as a regulator.  Laura talked about clients dealing payload issues, think tank types of issues, lots of financial responsibility issues and issues dealing with the newly required waiver and other insurance issues.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show.  Visit Laura's science fiction works at her website provided above.  For her space law practice, visit Laura at  You can reach Laura through her websites or through m




Article 9 of the Outer Space Treaty!

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09 Jul 2017 Laura Montgomery
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