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Guest: Wayne White; Topics: Wayne's Space Pioneer Act for property, mining, and space salvage rights.
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We welcomed Wayne White, space attorney, back to the program for a one segment 100 minute discussion on Wayne's space Pioneer Act to legalize and regulate space property, mining, and salvage rights. Prior to starting with Wayne, I noted the passing of early Space Show guest and friend and leading advocate of SSP and Lunar SSP, Dr. David Criswell. Our program with Wayne White was in memory of Dr. Criswell as will be the case with all Space Show programs this week. Here is a short bio and obituary for Dr. Criswell: https://www.lpi.usra.edu/planetary_news/2019/09/23/in-memoriam-dr-david-r-criswell-1941-2019/. Dr. Criswell will be missed by all including The Space Show.
We started our discussion with guest Wayne White by his reintroducing us to his Space Pioneer Act. This Act is designed to establish a legal regime for space property rights, mining rights and space salvage. Most of our discussion did focus on property rights though we did adequately cover mining and salvage. During our property rights discussion, we had multiple listener email questions and phone calls. In addition to the legal and technical issues discussed, some of the listeners asked him about the progress, method, and likelihood of his Act getting accepted by congress plus timelines for it becoming a real bill ready for debate and signature. Wayne first proposed the Act to Space Show listeners in 2013. He said it was now almost ready for congressional sponsorship. He announced he was taking a short leave of absence from his work to finish the Act plus he thought there would be congressional endorsement and scheduling this year. In addition, Wayne made the case for the Act to be bipartisan so when asked if he thought the current partisanship problems in congress would adversely impact the Act, he said he did not think so and then he explained why he thought partisanship would not be a factor.
Late in the first segment we took a multi-issue call from Dr. Doug. Make sure you listen to all of this discussion. When it ended, I asked Wayne if there might somehow be provisions in the Act for oversight, due diligence review or some other mechanism to screen property rights proposals of potential lunar business for plausibility so the Kool Aid/fantasy was not included. Wayne resisted my suggestion. What do you think? Just before the break he did suggest a sort payload review program or something similar might be put in place by FAA AST. Again, we would like to hear from you on this issue by your putting your comments up on the bog. While I do not favor censorship, I would hate to see the system for establishing lunar opportunities involving some type of property rights getting bogged down with fringe, silly, fantasy or even destructive types of projects. Slippery slope? Yes, for sure. Still, I believe some sort of due diligence on space projects could prove beneficial.
We started the second segment talking about space mining. Wayne said this section was similar to the property rights section so he did not spend much time on it. He quickly moved on to space salvage. Here, he had much to say since there was more work to be done on the salvage part of the Act. In discussing space salvage, Wayne talked about contract and emergency salvage and how space salvage would probably be based terrestrial and sea salvage law.
Several issues regarding mining and salvage were discussed including tax issues, ISRU usage compared to terrestrial usage and more. Impacting markets here on Earth was a concern talked about by Wayne. Also, rare Earth metals and why they might be exempt from user fees or taxes back on Earth. In this discussion, Wayne made it clear that it was important to incentivize these activities for use in developing space. It was near the end of the program when Wayne went back to my commercial project oversight question and suggested mission reviews or something similar.
Wayne offered us concluding comments and take away points so be sure to listen all the way to the very end. As he was winding down his comments, he talked about potential bill sponsors in both houses of Congress, getting bipartisan support, and more.
Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show. You can reach Wayne through me on this earlier 2014 slide presentation for the Act: https://www.slideshare.net/wnwhite/w-white-space-pioneer-act-9-3014.