May 2008


Full Article here.

(Submitted by Dave Wasser, Austin Texas) 

Can real estate on the Moon be legally claimed, owned, and resold here
on earth, without violating international laws? People have wondered about
it for decades. It has always been considered a gray area because no
international treaties specifically allow it or disallow it.

Now for the first time a law journal article argues it is perfectly legal for
a privately funded space settlement to sell deeds to lunar (or Martian) real

This is an incredibly important issue because real estate would be a catalyst
for privately funded space development. Without the ownership of Lunar
real estate there is no economic incentive for private industry to invest the
billions of dollars to get there – and stay there.

The article, entitled “Space Settlements, Property Rights, and International
Law: Could a Lunar Settlement Claim the Lunar Real Estate It Needs to Survive?”
appears in this week’s issue of the SMU Journal of Air Law and Commerce:

(Source: CFL-13)
After more than 40 years hosting rockets, a Cape Canaveral launch pad came crashing down Sunday. More than 200 pounds of explosives were used to bring down the Titan launch tower. When it was built, the tower was the largest moving object on Earth. The 265-foot tall tower was used to launch projects such as NASA’s Cassini probe. The site will now become the new home to Space X’s new Falcon rockets. Much of the tower’s debris will be recycled, which is about 6,500 tons of steel. Money made from selling the material will pay for the demolition. (4/28)

Virgin Galactic will be inviting travel agents to boldly go where no travel agent has gone before. Travel agents will have the opportunity to apply to sell space travel in partnership with the Virgin Galactic Accredited Space Office in Dubai, with selected applicants joining a shortlist from which the chosen sales agents will be announced. “We want to create a network of agents in the Middle East who are knowledgeable, well informed and know how to deliver the highest levels of service when selling unique travel experiences,” said Carolyn Wincer, head of astronaut sales. (5/1)

(Source: Spaceports Blog)
A private Russian company has ordered the Myasishchev Experimental Machine-building Plant to design a tourist spacecraft to compete in the global market to loft humans to space and back. “The enterprise is working on documentation and a draft design and is completing the technical feasibility study for the system. A private Russian company is fully financing the project,” a spokesperson said, but declined to name the exact firm. The suborbital spacecraft would launched from several kilometers altitude by a transport aircraft. The vehicle would carry two pilots and 14 passengers with the number of passenger seats capable of being increased in the future. (5/4)

(Source: Space News)
Congressional investigators are scrutinizing NASA’s decision to give Zero Gravity Corp. a shot at conducting the type of weightless flights for researchers and astronauts the agency traditionally has conducted with its own C-9 aircraft. The House Science and Technology subcommittee opened an investigation in April after Democratic staffers traveled to JSC for a briefing on NASA’s parabolic flight program. [Editor’s note: From the outset, NASA program managers at JSC have seemed inclined to oppose any plans to privatize their parabolic flight program.]

Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.) sent letters to NASA Administrator Mike Griffin requesting materials related to the Zero-G deal. The letters included multiple allegations disputed by Zero-G, among them that the company conducted a flight for a “Girls Gone Wild” video. Zero-G has long denied any association with “Girls Gone Wild” and Mantra Films said the featured flight was conducted from Moscow and not by Zero-G. The letters also question whether paying Zero-G for parabolic flights is a better deal for NASA than flying the C-9, and whether Zero-G is sufficiently committed to serving NASA.

A document review by subcommittee staff should be completed this week. In a May 1 statement, Zero-G CEO Peter Diamandis said Zero-G is investing $1 million to modify its 727 for NASA flights this summer. Although the total potential value of NASA’s contract with Zero-G is $25.4 million, the agency is technically committed only to a single week’s worth of Zero-G flights for around $300K. Diamandis was confident that investigators will find that flying with Zero-G is a good deal for NASA. (5/3)

(Source: PR Log)
The Colorado General Assembly has recognized the 8th Continent Project and the Colorado School of Mines for their “efforts to integrate space technology and resources into the global economy” through a joint resolution. The resolution praised the project for accelerating the emergence of the space commerce in Colorado and around the world, and for “organizing ‘Space 2.0′, the emerging generation of entrepreneurial space-related business ventures that will further expand Colorado’s global reputation as an international hub for technology and commerce.”

Based at the Colorado School of Mines, the 8th Continent Project is the world’s most comprehensive effort to integrate space technology and resources into the global economy. The 8th Continent provides the infrastructure and resources to solve a wide range of challenges from renewable energy development to biomedical advances to global security. Located in Colorado, home of one of the most concentrated entrepreneurial, investor and aerospace talent communities in the world, the 8th Continent Project brings space down to Earth with the industry’s first trade association, business incubator, funding network and research center, all working together to develop the next generation of space-related business ventures. More information can be found at (5/2)

(Source: Spaceports Blog)
After being selected by the NASA to demonstrate a new space transportation system for cargo to the Space Station, Orbital Sciences Corp. is expected to make a final decision on launch pad utilization between the Wallops Island Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia or the Cape Canaveral Spaceport this week. The initial announcement included a proposal to launch from Virginia’s fledgling FAA-licensed commercial spaceport. But after intense lobbying by Florida aerospace interests, Orbital Sciences Corp. opened the launch site to bid. Both states have reportedly offered packages to lure the new Taurus II medium-lift rocket. (5/4)

 (Source: ERAU)
The Florida Legislative Session came to an end Friday and a flurry of space-related bills were passed with broad support. Included were a Spaceflight/Informed Consent bill, a Qualified Space Contractor Tax Refund bill, $14.5 million for launch infrastructure modifications at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, $4 million for Space Florida operations, $500K for a suborbital spaceflight research and training program, $1.25 million for an aerospace workforce training initiative, and a $40 million Reusable Space Vehicle Industry Prize Program (matching $20 million from the state with $20 million in private investments).

Left for next year was the Space Technology & Research Diversification Initiative (STRDI), which aimed to establish a multi-university space research effort that would move the state beyond its economic reliance on launch-related programs. STRDI was passed by the House but did not clear a Senate committee in time. (5/3)

 (Sources: ERAU)
NASA’s policy of “ten healthy centers” is not consistent with the agency’s plans for Kennedy Space Center, which Senator Bill Nelson said would be on “life support” unless policies change for retiring the Space Shuttle and implementing the Constellation program. During an April 28 workshop, elected officials and labor representatives expressed deep concerns about the loss of skilled workers who will be required to support Constellation. Although some officials suggested the Space Coast is more prepared for the Shuttle retirement than it was for the Apollo cancellation, one County Commission member pointed out that the Shuttle impacts could be worse than anticipated since they will be exacerbated by an ongoing national recession.

By doing nothing to shorten the post-Shuttle gap, Congressman Dave Weldon said NASA would be laying off U.S. workers so Russia can hire more Soyuz workers in Moscow. Potential solutions discussed included adding Shuttle flights to delay the retirement, accelerating Constellation’s Ares rocket development, accelerating the COTS human transport option, and switching from the Ares-1 to an Atlas-V carrier vehicle for Orion. Also discussed was the need for NASA to transfer appropriate projects to KSC to retain the skilled workforce, and for improvements at the Eastern Range to help bring new commercial and military programs to the Cape Canaveral Spaceport.

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