Broadcast 3616 Laura Montgomery

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The Space Foundation Conference

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Guest:  Laura Montgomery:  Topics:  A review of space law and policy for 2020 and a look forward regarding space law and policy for 2021.

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Laura Montgomery, space attorney, was welcomed back to the show as our guest for this 100 minute discussion of space law and policy issues addressed in 2020 followed by a look forward for the same in the new year of 2021.  Our discussion started with my asking our guest for the top events of 2020 re space law and policy.  She quickly mentioned a short list of top events with the first one being President Trump's Executive Order declaring space is not a global commons. This started quite the discussion, not just about space as a global commons but a reading of Article One of the OST which Laura said was usually misunderstood.  Laura also talked about executive orders and what they are in the legal sense.  Her commentary on why space was not a global commons was compelling but share your thoughts with us on this issue by posting on our blog for this show. 

Our first call came from Fremont John who skipped through Laura's list of beg events for the year to go directly to SpaceX and the Starlink internet service contract language about law and policy and stating that Mars was a free planet.  Laura wrote a blog article on this issues which I have posted on our blog.  I urge you to read it.  Her article, "Is Mars a "Free Planet," and May No country Authorize Martian Activities? " was discussed in detail with John and the audience.  Laura was asked what type of court would even hear a case on this and related subjects.  The answer was a US federal court, explaining that the contract would probably be signed in the U.S., was with a U.S. company and at least initially the early customer would be U.S. citizens.  She did say that the language might get modified should those from other nations become a Starlink customer. She talked about both Canada and the UK as examples.  Later in this specific discussion settlement was talked about, Earth independence from Mars was discussed, as was Article Six of the OST.  She did answer the question about Mars being a Free Planet in terms of being legally independent.  Let us know what you think of her conclusion by posting on the blog.

At this point, let me direct your attention to the tags and key words copied below.  As I have done with other program archies, I am copying them here as they provide a quick summary of discussion topics and in the order they were discussed or this program.  I will highlight a few of the items following the tags and key words.

Tags and Key Words:  Laura Montgomery, space law and policy review 2020,  space as a global commons, executive orders, The Outer Space Treaty, Dr. Henry Hertzfeld, Article One of the Outer Space Treaty, SpaceX Starlink Contract re space law, Mars as a free planet, U.S. court jurisdiction, space settlement, The Mayflower Compact, Earth independent settlements, Article Six of the Outer Space Treaty, Artemis Accords, Artemis return to the Moon program, Artemis as a private sector business model, space property marketable title for financing, commercial space business insurance, commercial space regulatory environment risks, ITAR, NASA purchase of lunar rocks and material, FAA and FCC oversight reach,  2021 possible legal events, NOAH report on how to regulate New Space, U.S. Space Force, potential Article Nine Outer Space Treat issues, Planetary Protection concerns, Dr. robert Zubrin, space settlement and NASA, Congress and human settlement, Human factors, Mars independence, rescue of space travelers, Rescue Treaty applicability to commercial space personnel.

The Artemis Project along with The Artemis Accords were standout discussion topics.  As our guest was going through both the returning to the Moon and then the Accords, she asked an answered the question regarding Artemis being a good model for private sector companies.  She mentioned three important factors to consider when considering the question.  Once you hear what she had to say, again, post your thoughts about her commentary on our blog. 

Following the Artemis part of our discussion, I asked Laura if, in terms of space private property rights, she thought we would ever accomplish having marketable title to space property for financing purposes for a commercial space venture.  She said that might very well happen but listen to all of what she said about this subject.  Listener Bob asked her about specific types of business commercial insurance being available for commercial space ventures.  Laura mentioned launch insurance and satellite insurance as already being available. As to other types of business insurance being available for space activities, she suggested that when the market warranted it, the insurance would be there. 

Another important part of our program came when Christine from Oregon sent in a note asking our guest about the regulatory environment for New Space commercial companies. Laura mentioned ITAR but also talked about the new incoming administration and regulations.  This brought her to a conversation about the FCC, FAA and even NOAH (Dept. of Commerce) oversight reach that may come to a head next year.  Don't miss this part of our conversation.

For the remainder of the program, we focused on the upcoming New Year, 2021.  Laura mentioned issues to keep our eyes on including the NOAH issue, possibly Space Force and commercial space issues, and the big one, Article nine of the OST, Planetary Protection.  Laura went through Article nine in detail, explaining it very clearly for us.  In discussing this subject, I asked our guest about the recent Zubrin Op-Ed article about the paper that came from NASA folks at Ames and elsewhere opposing humans on Mars.  Laura said she read Bob's paper and agreed with what he said, on the assumption his depiction of the paper was correct.  From here we talked about space settlement, NASA support of space settlement and congressional bipartisan law supporting "human settlement for space." Have a pencil and paper ready as Laura provided us with the legal refences and citations for what she was talking about.  Ft. Worth John called to bring up the subject of human factors for space missions and settlements.  Mars independence was mentioned again in the context of Mars reaching the self-sufficient stage.

Before the program ended, a listener asked Laura if the rescue treaty applied to commercial or company workers or travelers in space.  This was quite a conversation including my referring to a past Space Show program where I provided research on the different rescue policies of countries around the world.  Part of this discussion cited the now defunct Mars One example of stranding their customers on Mars and going bankrupt, wondering who would have the will or the responsibility or the funding to continue supporting those on Mars or to rescue them from being stranded on Mars, assuming a rescue ship could reach them in time..

Please post your comments/questions on our blog for this show.  Please visit the blog for our guest at Our guest can be contacted through me or through her blog.  In addition, the global commons Dr. Hertzfeld commentary can be found at




space law & policy review for 2020 and a look ahead to the New Year

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11 Dec 2020 Laura Montgomery
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