The Future of Commercial Space Law and Regulation: Federal Laws and Regulations – Creating and Environment That Really Does “Encourage and Facilitate”

June 7, 2011 at 7:39 am | Posted in Blogcast, Space Law | Leave a comment

The first panel of the day was titled, Creating and Environment That Really Does “Encourage and Facilitate.” Panelists included Herb Bachner, Program Manager of Commercial Space Transportation, CSSI Inc.; Rene J. Rey, Senior Aerospace Engineer FAA/ Office of Commercial Space Transportation; and Franceska Schroeder, Fish & Richardson. Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz moderated the session.

The panel discussed priority issues for the next decade. Panelists discussed many issues. One of the first was insurance and liability caps for space activities. This panel focused on regulatory activity by the FAA meant to “encourage and facilitate” commercial space activities. One of the predominant themes in the discussion was the idea of the goals of these regulations and the government in general. A need for a long term strategy was expressed by the panel, and implementing regulations to meet these goals was expressed as essential.

The panel was then asked to address why liability caps should be continued for the space industry rather than others. Schroeder responded that the industry was a risk industry, and that the government realized that a company couldn’t function if it’s existence was put on the line every time it launched a satellite. She stated that the risk allocation made the industry predictable, and that it helped to make the commercial space viable, via a clear and comprehensive contract regime. She also stated that there were numerous policy reasons why the government should promote the industry in this manner, especially the protection of high technology leadership. Bachner followed up on the policy issues. He stated that it was in the government’s interest to be a leader in the field so that it can be at the forefront of developing standards and regulations, which increases safety in the future. He then stated that an industry with a track record for safety, can also become an economic asset. Rey stated that the risk sharing regime should be augmented by more robust insurance regulatory regime.

The panel was then asked whether the government should remove itself from supporting this industry. Schroeder stated that it was in U.S. interest to protect industries that affect national security among other things. She also stated that space infrastructure was critical to so many industries, therefore the governments interest is served by encouraging the industry. Bachner compared the space regulation to aviation regulation. He stated that the regulatory roots were different which led to space being regulated in segments, which is not necessarily bad, but that it creates more discussion on each element.

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