by P.J. Blount with the blog faculty
Remote sensing data has been used in court for some time in evidentiary matters (see for example the upcoming article Certification of Digital Data in the newest issue of the Journal of Space Law). Now GPS data is beginning to be used, and in a very unlikely place: Traffic Court.
According to CNN (here), a California man is hoping to get his son’s speeding ticket overturned by using data from the GPS tracking system installed in his son’s car. Effectively, this pits the radar speed gun technology the police use against satellite GPS technology. It is hard to pick a favorite in this technology showdown: the GPS system in the case only sends a signal every 30 seconds making for a problematic delay, whereas the radar gun might suffer from human error.
One shouldn’t get their hopes up too high, though:
David W. Brown, a Monterey lawyer and author of “Fight Your Ticket in California,” said attacking the reliability of radar guns does not usually get speeders very far, especially if they are unwilling to devote extra time and money to hiring legal experts.
According to Brown, challenging the ticket when the issuing officer is absent is still the most common way out of a ticket.
A new GeoEye Press release:
Dulles VA (SPX) Oct 22, 2007
GeoEye has announced it has contracted with ITT Corporation to begin work on the camera for GeoEye’s next satellite, GeoEye-2. This is the first step in a phased development process for an advanced, third-generation satellite capable of discerning objects on the Earth’s surface as small as 0.25-meter (9.75 inch) in size. The company expects to contract with a satellite builder in 2008 and launch the satellite approximately three years after work begins under that contract.
“America’s commercial remote sensing industry has proven itself to be a reliable partner with our national security customers both here in the US and overseas,” said Martin C. Faga, a member of GeoEye’s board of directors and a former director of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). “GeoEye-2 will continue this legacy of achievement and GeoEye looks forward to discussions with overseas customers, the Department of Defense and other agencies as to how this newest satellite will help agencies meet critical missions for national defense and homeland security.”
Matthew O’Connell, GeoEye’s chief executive officer and president said, “Because of strong market trends, we are moving ahead with plans for GeoEye-2 independent of any formal U.S. Government commitment as an anchor customer. Our financial strategy, since GeoEye’s inception almost two years ago, has been to invest prudently and, after long analysis, we have concluded that the market will be ready for another sensor in the 2011 timeframe. GeoEye will continue to maintain a constellation of Earth-imaging sensors in order to remain a leading provider of geospatial imagery and information.”
GeoEye-2 will be of the same general class as GeoEye-1, but will benefit from significant improvements in capability, including enhanced direct tasking, and the potential to collect imagery of the Earth’s surface at 0.25-meter or 9.75-inch ground resolution. While GeoEye has an operating license from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to build and launch a satellite constellation with this extremely high ground resolution, the final decision regarding GeoEye-2’s resolution will be made in response to how best to serve customer requirements, as well as consideration of the current regulatory environment.
Under current licensing constraints, only U.S. Government customers and specifically designated allies have access to imagery at this highest resolution while commercial customers receive imagery at the highest resolution allowed by U.S. regulations, currently 0.5-meter or 19.5 inch ground resolution.
Frank Koester, vice president and director of Commercial and Space Science Systems, ITT Space Systems, said, “ITT is pleased to once again be in partnership with GeoEye to produce the sensor for their next-generation imaging satellite. ITT’s technology and legacy of mission success, including GeoEye’s IKONOS satellite will again provide outstanding imaging performance and meet the evolving demands for quality multispectral geospatial information.”
“We chose ITT as our digital camera supplier for GeoEye-2 because of their superior, digital imaging products and excellent track record with delivery of both the GeoEye-1 and IKONOS sensors,” said Bill Schuster, GeoEye’s chief operating officer.
While this contract announcement is for GeoEye-2, GeoEye is nearing the launch of its next-generation commercial satellite imaging system, GeoEye-1, slated for late first quarter or early second quarter 2008 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. GeoEye-1 will be the world’s highest resolution commercial Earth imaging satellite with the best geospatial accuracy available. The satellite will be able to discern objects on the ground . 41-meter or 16 inches in size or larger. More importantly, GeoEye-1 will be able to locate an object that size to within about nine feet of its true location on the surface of the globe without ground control points. Imagery from GeoEye-1 can be supplied in color or, if the customer prefers, in black and white.
Megan Scully, Conferees split over language on aerial refueling services, Congress Daily
A Maginot Line In The Sky: Beat our satellites, beat America
By Ralph Peters
by P.J. Blount with the blog faculty
Its here! The newest issue of the Journal of Space Law . The contents are:
JOURNAL OF SPACE LAW
UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI SCHOOL OF LAW
A Journal Devoted to Space Law and the Legal Problems Arising Out of Human Activities in Outer Space
Volume 33 Summer 2007 Number 1
Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz
Call for Papers
The Evolution of U. S. National Security Space Policy and its Legal Foundations in the 20th Century – Cargill Hall
What is “Informed Consent” for Space-Flight Participants in the Soon-To-Launch Space Tourism Industry? – Tracey Knutson
A Review of the Space Development Promotion Act of the Republic of Korea – Yoon Lee
China’s ASAT Test: A Demonstrated Need for Legal Reform – KK Nair
Certification of Digital Data: The Earth Resources Observation and Science Data Center Project – Ronald J. Rychlak, Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz, & Rick Crowsey
The Effect of the Liability Convention on National Space Legislation – Susan Trepczynski
International and U.S. National Laws Affecting Commercial Space Tourism: How ITAR Tips the Balance Struck Between International Law and the CSLAA – Charles W. Stotler
European Cooperating State Agreement between the European Space Agency and the Government of the Republic of Poland
Space Law and Relevant Publications – Macey L. Edmondson
Case Law, Law Review Articles, Periodical Materials, Books
by P.J. Blount with the blog faculty
Today, in 1945, the UN Charter entered into force ushering in a new era in international law. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, marked the 62nd anniversary of the Charter by saying,“More people and governments understand that multilateralism is the only path in our interdependent and globalizing world. Global problems demand global solutions – and going it alone is not a viable option.”
States Parties to the Treaty shall carry on activities in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, in accordance with international law, including the Charter of the United Nations, in the interest of maintaining international peace and security and promoting international co-operation and understanding.
The UN Charter is a vital part of space law. It constitutes an important part of the international law framework that the space treaty regime rests upon. One cannot properly read the space treaties without taking into account the underlying content of international law, and specifically the UN Charter. Just as the Outer Space Treaty serves as a founding document for international space law, the UN Charter serves as a founding document for modern international law (including Space Law).
Go on, celebrate and give it a reread on your lunch break today.
by Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz with the blog faculty
The idea for launching and operating space solar power satellites is gaining momentum in the space community. Leaving the question of their efficiency and engineering to the economists and well, the engineers, it is interesting to consider what laws and regulations might apply to them.
A place to look to get an idea of how to proceed in the future and what might apply is the U.S. law and regulations regarding other space technology applications. Launch transportation, remote sensing, and, space tourism also called personal spaceflight, all had the same legal starting point as solar power satellites: none. Legal regimes were developed for all of them by applying known legal principles to the specific situations raised by each technology.
In general terms, each application had to be identified as an accepted “use” of outer space under the international treaty regime. If the activity was governmental, then applicable agency and other regulations came into play. If the private sector became involved then, because of U.S. obligations under Article 6 of the Outer Space Treaty, a licensing regime was fashioned to cover the activities and to serve as an interface between international and national law.
Each licensing system had to address different things. Launch technology presented the possibility of explosions causing extensive high-impact injuries. This was met with a “maximum probable loss” standard and a cap on certain kinds of liability. Remote sensing presented questions of data availability and end of life satellite disposal. This was met with the nondiscriminatory access principle and requiring commercial satellite licensees to dispose “of any satellites in space in a manner satisfactory to the President”. Personal spaceflight presented the possibility of injury to innocent third parties on the ground regardless of what risk the on-board space flight participants are willing to take. Here, the regulations evolved from those applicable to existing launch transportation vehicles and were made to address the specific issues and distinctions raised by the new vehicle technologies.
Many in the community are of the view that a solar power satellite system should be achieved through international cooperation. If that is the case, then some guidance is available from the International Space Station Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA). It is not a direct precedent for solar power satellites but it does address jurisdiction, torts, and intellectual property—all of which will be relevant. Examining the application of legal fundamentals as well as the multi-year negotiating history of the IGA will yield some lessons for moving forward.
This is not to say that formulating the legal regime for solar power satellites will be easy or simple. It is to say that it can be done. It is defensible to posit that future space technologies and activities including solar power satellites, will also require regulation and, if private entities are involved perhaps licensing, that will be tailored to the situations they present.
Winston Churchill had something to say about this. To paraphrase the British Bulldog, the further into the future you want to see, the further back into history you have to look. Looking back it can be seen that technological development has been a major driver of legal change. Ancient Roman law provided that a landowner’s property rights included the Earth under the property down to its center and all of the sky above it up to infinity. Then came tall buildings—early technology—and air and light rights evolved. When aircraft were first introduced primarily as weapons delivery systems in World War I, sovereigns claimed airspace as theirs. In the age of ocean exploration, the law of nations provided that territorial waters extended about three miles from a sovereign’s shore. That was the distance the then current technology could propel a cannon ball. Today, we have virtually no cannonballs and hundreds of miles in national exclusive economic zones. In fact, the entire corpus of space law itself was catalyzed by launch and satellite technology: Sputnik.
In 2007, it cannot be said how solar power satellite technology will change the law. However, it can be said that it can, and will.
Statement by George Pataki, nominated by President George W. Bush to serve as Public Delegate to the 62nd UNGA, at the Thematic Debate on Outer Space (Disarmament Aspects), in the First Committee of the General Assembly, October 22, 2007
by P.J. Blount with the blog faculty
Earlier this month Travelex, a foreign currency exchange specialist, unvieled its plans for the first Space Money (here). The Quasi Universal Intergalactic Denomination (QUID) is a form of currency that has been scientifically engineered to be safe for the space environment. According to Travelex traditional forms of payment won’t be suitable for outer space (i.e. sharp edges of coins are dangerous in zero gravity, magnetic strips of credit cards won’t make it through the Earth’s electromagnetic field, and the traveller will be too far away to make chip and pin payments useful). The currency is safe for the space environment because it lacks sharp edges and is made of a space grade plastic. Additionally, it contains a map of the solar system, to use as a visual aid when interacting with aliens while paying your tab at the Restaraunt at the End of the Universe.
This new form of intergalactic payment comes complete with a set of interesting legal questions:
The first question is whether issuing the currency counts as a space activity under the Outer Space Treaty. If so then “authorization and continuing supervision” is required. Furthermore, if it is a “national activity” then international liability could result for the country who is supervising Travelex. But what country gets the chore of watching over Travelex? Travelex’s headquarters are in London, but they have subsidiaries all over the world. Would the supervising country change with the place of currency conversion, or with the type of currency converted (the QUID will be available to be purchased with any of the 176 currencies used worldwide). This may seem moot at the moment because Travelex has only taken terrestrial actions so far. However, at least one report claims that Travelex has submitted a request “to open the first bureau de change on the moon.” This would most certainly be considered a space activity. The article however does not say to whom that request was submitted, though.
Another question arises under the Liability Convention. Article XII states that, unless otherwise agreed, compensation shall be made in the form of currency of the claiment State. Could the States agree to compensation in the form of the QUID. Presumably so, as there is nothing in the treaty that requires the compensation to be in any particular form if the states choose an alternative form of compensation.
Next, there is a question of whether this is even a form of currency. It has been created by a private company. Travelex has stated that they intend to work with the Bank of England to get it registered as an official currency, but until that time what is the law governing the QUID? The company has built in serial numbers that allow it to be tracked and to prevent counterfitting, but I question whether anything more than standard IP laws protect the company’s product. It could be likened to commercial paper, but there this reasoning might fail as it is most certainly not paper.
Finally, the QUID seems to assume that an Earth-like array of businesses will emerge in space (picture Daytona Beach on the moon – complete with airbrushed T-Shirts). The distinct possibility is that all of these businesses will be governed by different laws as they may originate in different countries. Assuming that such a business model does emerge in space, then a standard currency would almost be a necessity, which is what Travelex is recognizing with its innovation. The QUID can only be one unifying factor. An Earth-like business district in space would be subject to a multiplicity of transnational laws. This could be a costly venture for businessesl (imagine if every shop on your main street was in a different jurisdiction and legal regime). The question that arises is whether the QUID is the precursor of an emerging lex mercatoria for space. Commercial actors in space might end up adopting codes of conduct for dealing with each other that are outside the scope of national or international laws. In fact, they may have to in order to make space tourism and exploration a profitable venture. The QUID, can be seen as representative of this, in that it is a private enterprise designed to allow businesses in space to interact with customers. While there is evidence of some interaction with state agencies, at the moment it seems that this is a commercial enterprise that will only work if other commercial enterprises recognize it as authoritative.
image source: Travelex press release.