by Edward Ellegood
Florida Space Development Council
February 8, 2017

 

Moon Express: The Legal Dimension of Private Companies Mining the Moon

Earlier this week Moon Express co-founder Naveen Jain said the company plans to land on the Moon this year, with a view to mine it for its natural resources. The private company was granted permission to travel to space by the US government last year and it has now raised the funds needed to carry out its mission. Jain said the company is looking to acquire Helium 3 (He-3) and Platinum-grade material – a move he claims would be “for the benefit of humanity”. But the legal implications of mining on the Moon are wide-ranging. Countries around the world are bound by a 1967 treaty with regards to governing activities on the Moon. The Outer Space Treaty sets out international space law. One explicit section says no government can claim a celestial resource: “Outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.” One way to get round this is through private companies, and in 2015 documents emerged that appear to show the US government encouraging firms to commercially develop the Moon. In a letter to Bigelow Aerospace, the FAA said it plans to “leverage the FAA’s existing launch licensing authority to encourage private sector investments in space systems by ensuring that commercial activities can be conducted on a non-interference basis”. In effect, it says any base set up on the Moon would have rights to that territory. — IBT

 

Inflatable Cycler Spacecraft Concept That Could Take Tourists to the Moon in Just TWO Days

We may be able to holiday on the Moon within the next decade, experts claim. Now, one designed has created a novel spacecraft concept that he claims would someday ferry tourists, supplies and equipment to the lunar surface within two days – as long as you have $10 million (£8 million) to spare. The concept, dubbed Cycler, is based on technology available today, and could even take people to asteroids and Mars once its reliability and safety are proven.– Daily Mail

 

Boeing’s Space Taxis to Use More than 600 3D-Printed Parts

Boeing has hired a small company to make about 600 3D-printed parts for its Starliner space taxis, meaning key components in the U.S. manned space program are being built with additive manufacturing. The company, privately held Oxford Performance Materials, will announce a $10 million strategic investment from advanced materials company Hexcel Corp as early as Friday, adding to $15 million Hexcel invested in May and lifting Hexcel’s equity stake to 16.1 percent, Oxford and Hexcel said. Boeing’s award of the parts for its flagship space program and Hexcel’s funding are strategic bets that printed plastics can perform flawlessly even under the extreme stress of a rocket launch and sub-zero temperatures of space. They offer further evidence of a shift in 3D printing from making prototypes to commercial production of high-grade parts for space ships, aircraft engines and other critical equipment.– Reuters

 

Space Tourism Survey Needs Your Participation
by Al Globus, NSS Director

Please take and distribute the space tourism survey. Space tourism may be the ‘killer app’ that enables space settlement. This survey will help us understand the market. The survey only takes a few minutes, requires no personal information, and any optional personal information you may provide will never be used for any purpose other than the survey itself. So please consider devoting a few minutes to help settle the solar system by taking the survey and sending the url to your friends! Thank you!

Future space tourists check out the Dragon capsule

 

Blue Origin Plant Under Construction at Kennedy Space Center

Gov. Rick Scott’s plan to put $17 million into Brevard County to help a private rocket firm is getting cheers on the Space Coast. The Blue Origin rocket factory, just outside the Kennedy Space Center, is quickly taking shape. The New Glenn rockets to be assembled there are designed to carry satellites, astronauts and space tourists. And now the governor is revealing Florida’s proposed investment in the project: an investment that shows what it took to get company founder and Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos to build in the Sunshine State. Florida’s money would go toward the renovation of Launch Pad 36 at the Cape, not used since 2005.– WESH

 

A Busy February for SpaceX at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport

SpaceX has scheduled a busy February in Central Florida. For the first time since an explosion crippled the company’s Florida launch operations, the company will launch a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station, followed closely by a commercial launch in February. The dates have not been finalized but SpaceX officials said Sunday that the first launch would happen no earlier than mid-February. The second launch is also scheduled for February, although no date has been announced for that flight. The launch will be the first from Kennedy Space Center since the shuttle launched from there in 2011. A September 2016 launch pad explosion delayed the cargo resupply mission, known as CRS-10, as investigations were opened. It also accelerated the timeline for the use of 39A, which had previously been expected to remain dormant until SpaceX’s launch of astronauts, expected during the next few years.– Orlando Sentinel

 

Making Commercial Space Great

In everything from military power to economic output, outer space capabilities are crucial for the United States. Though these capabilities have long been the domain of large government programs, commercial space companies are increasingly pushing progress. Unfortunately, these companies are hindered by cumbersome, confusing, and capricious governance practices. To ensure that America continues to be a leader in outer space, the U.S. government must reform how it oversees commercial outer space. The first step of reform should involve a thorough review of the government’s organizational approach to space oversight authorities. Currently, the authorities for activities in space are housed in a range of agencies—each with a different perspective on commercial space. Depending on the satellite or equipment being launched, a commercial company can undergo reviews by the FAA, Department of Commerce, the DOD, the State Department, and the FCC. This hodgepodge of agencies can be confusing to navigate, especially for new entrants to the space market. While the entire multi-agency process should be reviewed, there are direct steps that could be taken to improve individual aspects of government oversight. In the Department of Transportation (DOT), for example, the Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA AST) should be elevated out of the FAA to its own bureau status. — The Hill

 

Jim Bridenstine for NASA Administrator

It’s rare that someone actively seeks to be NASA administrator. But Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) has informed the Trump transition team that he would like the job. One reason he is campaigning to head an agency that is at once popular with the American people and held in some disrespect by the political class is that he harbors ambitions for the space agency that go beyond business as usual. Currently in his third and last term, as he has term-limited himself, Bridenstine is the author of the American Space Renaissance Act, which contains a wide-ranging number of proposals to reform military space, commercial space, and NASA. More recently he posted in his Congressional blog an explanation of “Why the Moon Matters.” He provides a cogent, economic reason why Americans should return to the Moon, the sooner the better.– The Hill

 

Under Trump, Astronauts May Return to the Moon

A return to the Moon is gaining traction. A trip to an asteroid looks iffy. And Mars is still the ultimate destination. The space program did not get much attention in last year’s presidential race. But President Trump’s promise to “Make America Great Again” will likely include a refocus on — if not a return to — to the Moon, which astronauts last visited in 1972. Expect also more partnering with private firms on space activities and missions and a reduction in NASA’s role monitoring Earth’s rising temperatures and sea levels. — USA Today

 

NASA Seeks Partnerships with U.S. Companies to Advance Commercial Space Technologies

NASA is seeking partnerships with U.S. companies focused on industry-developed space technologies that can advance the commercial space sector and benefit future NASA missions through the “Announcement of Collaborative Opportunity (ACO)” solicitation. NASA centers will partner with the companies that are awarded projects under the ACO to provide technical expertise and test facilities as well as hardware and software to aid in maturing technologies that can enable or enhance space systems and closely related subsystems. NASA’s investments in industry partnerships can reduce the cost of the development of technologies and accelerate the infusion of emerging commercial space system capabilities into space missions. Topics include: In-space Propulsion Technology Development; Advanced Communications Technology Development; Reliable Electronics Technology Development; and Small Launch Vehicle Technology Development.– NASA

 

World’s Biggest Telescope Needs Half a Billion Dollars More

It has been a long road for planners of the Giant Magellan Telescope, which will become the world’s largest telescope—if it’s completed on schedule. Casting of the first of seven mirrors, each formed from about 20 tons of borosilicate glass made from Florida sand, began way back in 2005. The project seems to finally be closing in on first light as the team amps up fundraising and construction efforts. The organizers of the telescope are gearing up for fundraising needed to bring the project to completion and have hired a new president with significant executive experience: Robert Shelton, a former president of the University of Arizona. In the last 15 years or so, the project to build a 24.5-meter telescope in Chile’s Atacama desert has raised slightly more than half of the project’s $1.05 billion cost. The telescope would be about two-and-a-half times larger than any existing optical telescope. Raising the remainder will not be easy for a telescope, Shelton acknowledged.– Ars Technica

An artist’s conception of the completed Giant Magellan Telescope.

 

SpaceWorks Releases 2017 Nano/Microsatellite Market Assessment

SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc. (SEI) announced today the annual update to its nanosatellite and microsatellite market forecast. The report details the latest observations and trends in the nano/microsatellite market. Projections indicate more than 450 nano/micro satellites will need launches annually in the year 2023 and beyond. The summary is available in presentation form as a free download on the website, http://www.spaceworksforecast.com. — Space Works