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Guest: Laura Montgomery; Topics: Space Law, Policy and Regulations for 2018 and a look into the near term for 2019.
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We welcomed back to the show Ms. Laura Montgomery for a space policy, law and regulatory review for 2018. In addition, we looked into near term 2019 for space law and especially regulations and required commentary periods. We started our one segment 62 minute discussion with our guest suggesting that 2018 was a year of focusing on space regulatory reform. Ms. Montgomery proceeded to summarize some of the agencies involved in regulatory reform along with the substance of proposed new rules, regulations, and in some instances, policy changes and laws.
Laura spent considerable time talking about the FAA proposed rule changes dealing with safety and a host of other subjects. Mentioned were the Flight Termination System changes and a focus on performance based requirements regarding keeping the public which is at risk safe. Don't miss the detailed explanations regarding the organizations, possible rule changes, legally allowed public commentary periods and the overall process involved in changing rules. Laura also spoke about other agencies including NOAA and the Dept. of Commerce with remote sensing and more. The FCC was mentioned regarding satellite communications but their process as our guest described, was different. Please listen to what our guest said that was different regarding the FCC.
Our guest mentioned that the Senate passed the Space Frontier Act and that it was headed for the House, even at this late date in December. We talked some about what was in the senate version of the bill. Later, after our show ended, we found out that the House killed voting on the bill so it is dead. You can read about what happened here on www.spacepolicyonline.com: https://spacepolicyonline.com/news/senate-passed-bill-creates-bureau-of-space-commerce-but-punts-on-new-regulatory-responsibilities and then this regarding the bill's failure in the House: https://spacepolicyonline.com/news/defazio-succeeds-in-killing-space-frontier-act/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Spacepolicyonline+%28SpacePolicyOnline+News%29.
Another interesting issue for 2018 focused on planetary protection and some new policy suggestions by the new NASA Planetary Protection Officer. Our guest had much to say about legal issues of planetary protection and the commercial space players/businesses. Listen to her comments about it not being law or mandatory rules for the private sector and about the FAA and enforcement, even enforcement through launch licenses. Laura reminded us that it is law for our government to support space settlement including settlement on Mars. This is pro-settlement space law is already in place. She reminded us several times that there was no planetary protection law, especially regarding private actors. Don't miss this important discussion.
Laura did talk about the launch license process and enforcement with the FAA. Even in efforts to streamline space rules and regulations, launch licensing would still be the domain of the FAA. We then talked about stability with the agencies and the government since administrations and directors change from time to time. Don't miss what our guest said about policy and questions regarding stability.
Laura was asked about the year 2018 and space property rights. She did not think there was much movement in the direction of establishing space property rights, especially since the US policy became law in 2015. There was no pressing need for property rights reforms or issues during the year as there were no issues or activities claiming space property rights so the status quo prevailed. She did suggest the current administration was supportive of space property rights but this will likely not be settled until there are real issues or conflicts driving it to the top of the list for policy, law and rulemaking. Our guest was a co-author of the recent Lunar Propellant Study as she wrote the property rights section. Her contribution to that study was part of this discussion.
As we were closing in on the end of our program, I asked Laura about burning issues for 2019. One thing our guest noted was that she did not think that the issue of where space begins will rise to a hot issue for 2019 despite this matter being talked about due to the recent SpaceShip2 successful demo flight. Listen to her explanation behind her reasoning on this issue. One of her comments was that the U.S. had zero interest in legally determining where outer space begins.
Listener Randy sent in one of the many email questions, this one asking about the creation of a U.S. Space Force and if the idea had any impact on regulatory concerns or issues. Laura said yes for space law and possibly for the developing interest in space traffic management but not for commercial space. We addressed space traffic management issues as they are rising to high levels of importance.
As our discussion moved along, I asked Laura what was on her 2019 watch list. One thing she was paying careful attention to was the possible release of another Space Policy Directive by the President and the National Space Council regarding who may need a license to go to space. As explained, this issue was and is separate from a launch license so pay attention so you understand it. I suspect we will hear more about this in 2019. What our guest was talking about pertains to payload operators needing a launch license for their payloads.
Before the program ended, we talked about space tourism safety issues. Note that these are issues defined for spaceflight participants. Our guest briefly summarized the informed consent basic requirements. Before ending the program, I asked her what she thought might be considered negative issues for 2018. Make sure you hear how she answered this question. Our guest then summarized her points of interest before saying goodbye for 2018.
Please post your comments/questions on our blog for this show. You can reach our gust through her website, GroundBasedSpaceMatters.com or me.