by Nicholas Welly, JD Candidate, University of Mississippi School of Law
Yesterday, the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law hosted a seminar on space security. Panelists included Center Director, Professor Joanne Gabrynowicz; Center Research Counsel P.J. Blount; Associate Professor of Law Matthew Hall; and Director for the Institute of Space Law at the Beijing Institute of Technology School of law Professor Li Shouping.
Prof. Matthew Hall: National Security
Professor Hall began the event with a discussion of the evolving meaning of “National Security,” describing the sea change in meanings from the Cold War to today. Professor Hall noted that while historically, national security focused on strategic relations, particularly between the former Soviet Union and the United States, today the term has a much more tactical connotation. He argued that this is most evident through the use of terms like counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation, disciplines that deal with specific functional and regional security issues, as opposed to common Cold War terms like counterespionage, which reflected a general national posture with focus on a single adversary. Professor Hall also described shifts in U.S. policy as reflected in documents like the National Intelligence Strategy and National Defense Policy. Professor Hall noted that these documents have expanded to include a focus on economic and transborder issues like disease and climate change. Finally, Professor Hall highlighted that national security community looks different today, with technical experts no longer limited to supporting roles, but now serving as leaders and policy-makers.
P.J. Blount: Space Security
Mr. Blount transitioned the discussion to the topic of space security. He noted that while this issue often conjures images of space weapons, space security is in fact three-dimensional. The first dimension, international peace and security, involves the application of space technologies for the purpose of treaty verification. Mr. Blount noted, however, that space technology is being used for a wider variety of functions than the arms treaty verifications for which they were originally developed, and that today, space systems contribute to climate, humanitarian, and even disaster relief efforts. Mr. Blount then explained the second dimension of space security—national security—still plays much of the same role as was intended at the advent of the space age: protecting national interests against outside threats. However, drawing on Professor Hall’s discussion, Mr. Blount noted that as the definition of national security changes, so does the role of space systems in protecting national interests. Mr. Blount highlighted language of the most recent U.S. National Space Policy (2006) to suggest space security may evolve to protect environmental, economic, and agricultural interests in the future. Finally, Mr. Blount described the space environment as the third dimension of space security, noting that the more heavily States rely on their space systems, the more evident the vulnerability of satellites to various threats becomes. Mr. Blount highlighted several issues threatening the viability of national space systems, including orbital debris, hostile attacks, and orbital overcrowding. He then noted that these issues raise the question of whether more law or less law could solve the challenges they present to free access, exploration, and use of outer space.
Prof. Li Shouping: International Peace & Security
Professor Li began by recognizing that “international security” is not a term of traditional international law. Rather, he noted, international law discusses “international peace and security,” and he pointed to the repeated use of this term in the U.N. Charter. Professor Li then argued that, in fact, international peace is the foundation of international security. Quoting Arnold Wolfers, Professor Li described security as a situation without objective threats and subjective fears, and then noted former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Anan’s call for a new security consensus based upon (1) a subjective freedom from fear, and (2) an objective recognition that whatever threatens one threatens all. Professor Li then explained that a critical factor in establishing international peace and security was the ability of the international community to deal with any threat that might arise, and noted that today, in international security the primary threats are the aggressive war and the use of force against the political independence and territorial integrity of States. In new international security, the threats were extended to international terrorism, poverty, infectious disease, proliferation of nuclear weapons, biochemical weapons, and so on. He concluded that the new connotation of international security has a much broader scope than it historically had. The new international security is a “common security,” which means coexisting with the opponent. The new international security is a “cooperative security,” which means that single States do not have the ability to unilaterally deal with threats. The new International security is a “collective security,” which means that States should recognize that threats today are threats to all, but recognized that this breadth is consistent with the changing threats to States.
Prof. Joanne Gabrynowicz: Collective Security
Professor Gabrynowicz concluded the panel discussion, addressing the topic of collective security. She noted how major historical events (e.g. WWI, WWII, 9/11) get the attention of the international community and catalyze new approaches to issues of security. She then identified several aspects of collective security that have grown out of these events. First, collective security requires that all States, and especially powerful States, must establish formal security arrangements and must be committed to them for them to work. Professor Gabrynowicz also identified international consensus (as opposed to voting) as a key to facilitating collective security. She pointed to the U.N. as an example of how a long-term commitment to relationship-building can overcome the stagnation that comes with voting systems where any one objector can effectively stall the decision-making process. However, she noted that once decisions are made with international consensus, for the collective to impose a sanction, it must have the ability to exert a political or economic force. Consistent with the idea of consensus-building, Professor Gabrynowicz noted that proponents of collective security must have patience and tolerance for ambiguity, and be able to keep the “big picture” in mind during the decision-making process. Professor Gabrynowicz described the last aspect of collective security as trust, highlighting that States will only commit if they believe it will work to protect their own interests. She explained that defining trust on an international basis was particularly difficult because States do not generally have a single identity. Professor Gabrynowicz then concluded that we should expect collective security to become more effective in the post-Cold War environment because there is a different kind of polarity evolving—one between the “have” nations and the “have not” nations, and thus access to and distribution of resources is becoming an increasingly critical issue.
The panel concluded by opening up to questions from the audience.
by Nicholas Welly, J.D. Candidate, University of Mississippi School of Law & Law Student Liasojn, ABA Forum on Air & Space Law
The morning’s events commenced with a Keynote address from Marion Blakely, the President and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association. Ms. Blakely provided a brief review of industry successes in 2009 and forecast industry strengths and weaknesses for 2010. She then shifted her focus to the issue of security, proposing several solutions to the security challenges facing international aviation, including (1) a push for internationally standardized screening processes, (2) utilizing the SAFETY Act as a mechanism to drive industry innovation while protecting innovators from lawsuits, (3) revamping the U.S. trade regulations to facilitate export of new security technologies, and (4) supporting NextGen as a comprehensive solution to current air traffic management and international aviation security challenges.
Mary U. Walsh, Assistant Chief Counsel for Legislation, Federal Aviation Administration moderated the morning’s first panel: “Washington Legislative Report.” Panelists included Gael Sullivan, a Democratic Professional Staff Member from the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee; Holly Woodruff, Minority Staff Director and Counsel-Aviation on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; Todd Hauptli, Senior Executive Vice President for the American Association of Airport Executives; Nancy Van Duyne, Vice President of Congressional Affairs at Continental Airlines; David Traynham, Director of Commercial Programs for Boeing; and James Conneely, an FAA Detailee to the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. The panelists discussed several issues, including Congressional funding for aviation infrastructure, focusing primarily on the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), FAA reauthorization, and a 2010 industry outlook.
The morning concluded with the panel “Aviation Regulation: Burdens vs. Benefits,” moderated by Mark Gerchick of Gerchick, Murphy and Associates. Panelists included the Honorable Robert S. Rivkin, General Counsel for U.S. Department of Transportation; J. David Grizzle, Chief Counsel for the Federal Aviation Administration; Monica Hargrove-Kemp, General Counsel at ACI-NA; Ray Neidl, an Independent Airline Analyst (formerly, of Calyon Securities); and Doug Mullen, Senior Attorney at the Air Transport Association. The panelists noted the massive cultural transformation that will accompany the transition to NextGen within the FAA and the aviation industry as a whole. They also noted the cooperative role that airports can play in the development of new regulations and technologies, environmental planning, and screening procedures. Panelists discussed the financial challenges facing the airlines, especially with respect to raising capital. They further noted the DOT’s interest in disclosure regulation, recognizing a need to protect passengers against unfair practices. The panel discussed passenger rights rules and the imposition of strict time limits on air carriers, noting several exceptions to the DOT rule designed to accommodate situations like weather and congestion. The panelists described aviation as a mass transit system which must balance the costs imposed by passenger protection regimes with the financial effects on customer bases and infrastructure. Panelists also debated the role of the DOT in enforcement and the value of self-regulation practices in the industry, noting the costs and benefits to carriers associated with implementing crew resource management rules regarding pilot rest. Finally, panelists briefly discussed congestion management rule making and the issue of slot auctions at major airports.
Lori Garver, the Deputy Administrator for NASA provided the luncheon keynote address. Deputy Administrator Garver highlighted the historical circumstances leading to the passage of the NASA Act of 1958, and commemorated space law pioneers, including Dr. Eileen Galloway. She then noted that, since its inception, NASA has been a critical player in preventing a conflict in outer space, an achievement that ought not be taken for granted. Deputy Administrator Garver further noted the ISS has become the hallmark of international cooperation in space in furtherance of one of NASA’s statutory mandates. She then discussed the current transition to commercial space activities, noting that NASA’s utilization of the Commercial Orbital Transportation System (COTS), its reliance on commercial leases of microgravity transportation systems for astronaut training, and the development of commercial space tourism technologies stands in stark contrast to the Cold War policies that spawned NASA. Deputy Administrator Garver also noted that NASA continues to be a leader in flight safety and engineering, and is placing new emphasis on “green aviation” technologies. She highlighted the Administration’s role in the development of NextGen, and concluded by noting that NASA will continue to utilize its budget to fulfill its statutory charges in new and creative ways.
The afternoon line-up began with “Spotlight On International Affairs and Airline Alliances,” moderated by Charles Hunnicutt, a Partner at Troutman Sanders LLP. Panelists included the Honorable Susan Kurland, Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Transportation; Nancy D. LoBue, Acting Assistant Administrator for Aviation Policy, Planning & Environment at the Federal Aviation Administration; Rosalind K. Ellingsworth, a Consultant to labor organizations and airlines; David Heffernan, a Partner at WilmerHale; and Paul H. DeLaney III, Senior Attorney for Legal, Trade, and International Affairs at FedEx Express. The panel addressed major developments in 2009, noting the “second stage” negotiations between the U.S. and EU; agreements to expand the Star, Skyteam, and Oneworld alliances; bilateral talks with Japan aimed at Open Skies; climate talks at ICAO; and first steps toward implementation of the EU’s emissions trading scheme. Panelists debated the strengths and weaknesses of outsourcing in the aviation industry, especially with respect to maintenance, noting the pros and cons of trade restrictions in this area. They also reviewed the proposed slot auction at JFK, but could not comment on specifics of the transaction. The panelists discussed several approaches to reducing trade deficits and the ultimate impact on aviation.
The Conference space panel, “Satellite Navigation and the Emerging Space Law” followed next, chaired by Pamela Meredith, Co-Chair of the Space Law Practice Group at Zuckert Scoutt & Rasenberger, L.L.P. Panelists included Prof. Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz, Director of the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law at The University of Mississippi School of Law; George Kinsey, Senior Attorney for Aquisition and Commercial Law at the Federal Aviation Administration; Shawn Cheadle, Associate General Counsel for Lockheed Martin Space Systems; and Naveen Rao, an Associate with the Government Regulation practice group at Jones Day. The panel discussed the historical advent of the Global Positioning System, several foreign satellite navigation systems, a technical description of the GPS constellation, the FAA’s role in managing satellite navigation systems and contracts (including GPS augmentation systems), and several GPS applications pertinent to the aviation industry. The panel then discussed the GPS-III contract recently awarded to Lockheed Martin and liability issues associated with government satellite contracts. The panelists also discussed emerging legal issues in the arena of GPS-enabled user equipment, including privacy issues and contract enforceability. Finally, the panelists highlighted challenges arising from satellite development and design, including the issue of counterfeit parts.
Hogan and Hartson Partner Thad T. Dameris moderated the Conference’s final panel, “Aviation Claims–Litigation Developments In 2009.” Panelists included Sebastien Saillard, Head of the Aviation Legal & Claims Department at Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS); Andrew Harakas, a Partner at Clyde and Co.; Jessica McCausland, a Trial Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice Aviation and Admiralty Litigation Section; and James Healy-Pratt, a Partner at Stewarts Law LLP. The doctrine of Forum Non Conveniens (FNC) was the prevailing topic of the day’s final panel. The panelists introduced the doctrine and explained the basis for its invocation, following quickly with a debate about the pros and cons of pursuing claims in the U.S. which arise out of international aviation accidents, noting the sometimes unreliable accident investigation process in foreign countries. The panelists also discussed the expectations and outcomes generally associated with invoking the doctrine, and described recent trends in U.S. courts regarding FNC motions. The panelists further highlighted the role of tort reform in making FNC claims available to defendants, and highlighted several hot venues for plaintiffs both domestically and internationally. Moving away from FNC, the panelists discussed some of the current challenges in aviation litigation arising from the financial crisis, as well as the relative value of wrongful death cases under various legal systems. The panel concluded with a brief discussion about EU data privacy laws, the litigation challenges the present in the U.S., and several solutions to overcome these hurdles.
Report: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics 48th Aerospace Sciences Meeting and New Horizons ForumJanuary 25, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Posted in Student Blogger | Leave a comment
By Ryan Noble,1L, J.D. candidate. Mr. Noble attends the University of Mississippi School of Law where he is affiliated with the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air, and Space Law. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati in June, 2009 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Aerospace Engineering. Mr. Noble is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, and the American Bar Association Forum on Air and Space Law. He hopes to integrate his diverse industry work experience with his legal education to develop innovative solutions to the challenges facing the aerospace industry.
This year marked the 48th Aerospace Sciences Meeting and New Horizons Forum hosted by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). For the second year in a row the event was held at the Orlando World Center Marriott Hotel in Orlando, Fl, U.S. during the second week of January. This year’s schedule of keynote speakers and New Horizons panels reflected the importance national policies and politics will have as the aerospace industry faces a new administration; new goals for human spaceflight following the Augustine report; NextGen air traffic control; integration of unmanned aerial systems (UAS’) into the national airspace system; and the introduction of renewable aviation fuels.
The keynote speakers and panelists included, US Representative Suzanne Kosmas, 24th district Florida; Robert Cabana, Director, John F. Kennedy Space Center, Kennedy Space Center, FL; Maj. Gen. Ellen M. Pawlikowski, Deputy Director, National Reconnaissance Office, Chantilly, VA; Gary E. Payton, Deputy Under Secretary, Air Force Space Programs, Washington D.C.; Gerald F. “Fred” Pease Jr., SES, Director of Air Operations and Executive Director of the Department of Defense Policy Board on Federal Aviation, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans and Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C; Henry P. “Hank” Krakowski, Chief Operating Officer, Federal Aviation Administration, Air Traffic Organization; Victoria Cox, Senior Vice President for NextGen and Operations Planning, Air Traffic Organization, Federal Aviation Administration, Washington D.C; and, Eileen M. Collins, Colonel USAF Retired and Former Astronaut.
Discussions revealed a growing desire for the Department of Defense (DoD) agencies to purchase commercial off the shelf (COTS) hardware and employ commercial services for satellite assets. The future market for evolved expendable launch vehicles (EELV’s) as compared to the development of reusable launch vehicle systems was discussed with the priority remaining in reliability, not schedule responsiveness. Commercial and Government Responsive Access to Space (CRASTE) vehicle systems were seen as beneficial in limited applications such as emergency replacement of satellite assets lost to debris damage or attack. Both the National Reconnaissance Organization (NRO) and NASA stressed a continued need for heavy lift vehicles as large apertures are necessary for scientific and reconnaissance missions.
The U.S. Air Force (USAF) national strategy to source aviation fuel from domestic feedstocks that curb climate change, enhance security of fuel supply, and promote economic sustainability is progressing, aiming to certify the entire fleet of USAF vehicles to operate on a 50/50 blend of JP-8 and Fischer-Tropsch synthetic paraffinic kerosene. Following closely behind this effort is certification for blends of hydrotreated renewable jet fuels that can be produced from plant oils found in algae, jatropha, camelina, and others. Accompanying the certifications will be ASTM specifications shared with the Commercial Alternative Aviation Fuel Initiative (CAFFI) workgroup. Dissemination of an ASTM International specification will allow commercial production of alternative fuels to meet a controlled standard, facilitating original equipment manufacturer (OEM) certification of the fuel for use in commercial engines.
The Public Policy Committee organized a new session this year, chaired by attorney Richard Jaworski of Cooper and Dunham LLP. It addressed intellectual property law topics pertaining to aerospace technologies. A chart presenting means to protect intellectual property, including the financial cost and timeframes for the various means, was particularly useful as small businesses often have to make strategic decisions based on the practical considerations of budget and schedule rather than legal strategies. Mr. Jaworski discussed the strategic differences between protecting computer software codes under copyright protection versus a method patent or trade secret. He also cautioned that the pending U.S. Supreme Court decision on In re Bilski may change the legal standards on the patentability of intangible processes, such as software codes.
I am always excited when sessions generate dialogue among common stakeholders, identifying issues and enabling the brainstorming of creative solutions. I was not disappointed when Mr. B. Gulliver, of Reynolds Smith and Hills, Inc., gave a presentation titled, “Can Your Airport Become a Spaceport? Benefits of a Spaceport Development Plan”. He reported that a growing number of active airports are contacting him about the feasibility of integrating spaceport operations into an existing airport. Ms. M. Mitchell, of the Federal Aviation Administration, Washington, DC, expressed concerns that regulations require federally funded airports to remain open to users that may conflict with the safety requirements of clearing airspace and closing runways prior to spacecraft operations. If presently operational airports are to integrate spacecraft operations, compromises between current aviation regulations and spaceflight regulations will need to be investigated to harmonize airport utility and spaceport safety.
Although AIAA is well known for its expansive technical journal publications, the Institute is truly a society of aerospace professionals who serve diverse roles within the industry. They consist of CEOs, researchers, regulators, generals, and even sociology students. Lawyers and law students interested in air and space law would be well served by attending AIAA events to connect firsthand with industry leaders and potential clients.
by Nicholas Welly, J.D. Candidate, University of Mississippi School of Law & ABA Forum on Air & Space Law Student Liaison
The American Bar Association Forum on Air and Space Law convened its 2009 Annual Meeting in Chicago last week. The event, titled “Course Correction: Strategies for Changing Times” is was held at the InterContinental Hotel in the heart of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. The agenda included several thought provoking panels addressing the challenges facing the aviation and space industries during these trying economic times.
The two-and-a-half day agenda officially kicked off Wednesday evening, following several administrative meetings of the Forum’s Governing Committee, with the Speakers Dinner, hosted by The Nolan group and held at Gibson’s Steakhouse. The event provided an outstanding networking opportunity for new and veteran Forum members.
The event included keynote addresses from several captains of industry. On Thursday morning, Chicago First Deputy Commissioner of Aviation Michael Boland welcomed the attendees with a preview of the Windy City’s 2016 Olympic Bid, then provided an overview of the city’s two major airports – Midway and O’Hare – highlighted their complimentary nature. Deputy Commissioner Boland then described the city’s efforts in the O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP). In addition to increasing capacity and decreasing delays, the OMP is setting the standard for sustainability in the arenas of airport design and management. Information about the project is available at www.OhareModernization.org.
Thursday’s lunch hour included a keynote address by John Luth, President and CEO of Seabury Aviation & Aerospace LLC. Mr. Luth provided a compelling review of recent economic trends in the aviation and aerospace industries, and described the type of industry forecasting and strategies he and his company provide their aerospace clients.
Friday’s lunch hour included the final keynote address by Glenn Tilton, President and CEO of UAL Corporation. Mr. Tilton discussed the challenges faced by the airline industry as a whole, and discussed the role of strategic partnerships, airport modernization, and domestic and international regulation on the global airline industry.
Thursday and Friday also delivered informative discussions by panel members and moderators from across the aerospace industry. Below is a overview of the Forum Panels:
Thursday, September 24th:
“Open Skies: Alliances and Competition.”
Moderator: Kenneth Quinn, Pilsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Panelists: The Honorable Robert Rivkin, General Counsel, U.S. Department of Transportation; John Byerly, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Transportation Affairs; Shawn Christensen, General Counsel, WestJet; Julie Ottinger, Managing Director, International & Regulatory Affairs, United Airlines; and Jeffrey Shane, Hogan & Hartson
“Global Regulation of Aviation”
Moderator: Glenn P. Wicks, The Wicks Group PLLC
Panelists: Margaret Gilligan, Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety, Federal Aviation Administration; Leslie MacIntosh, Chief Legal Counsel, Civil Aviation Authority of New Zeland; Frank Manuhutu, Chief Legal Advisor , EASA Rulemaking Directorate; E. Tazwell Ellett, Hogan & Hartson; Conor McAuliffe, Managing Director, European Affairs, United Airlines; Marshall S. Sinick, Squire Sanders & Dempsey LLP
“The Power of Persuasion”
Moderator: Robert S. Span, Steinbrecher & Span LLP
Panelists: The Honorable Joel M. Flaum, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; Carter S. Phillips, Sidley Austin LLP; Beth S. Brinkmann, Deputy Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice
Breakout Session 1 – “U.S. Export Controls, Trade Embargoes and Economic Programs: Compliance and Ethics Challenges for the Aerospace Industry”
Moderator: Franceska Schroeder, Fish & Richardson
Panelists: Dennis Burnett, Vice President, Trade Policy & Export Controls, EADS North American Defense Company; Dr. Henry Hertzfeld, Center for International Science & Technology/Space Policy Institute, The George Washington University; Kenneth Mead, Baker Botts LLP
Breakout Session 2 – “The Cape Town Convention in Practice”
Moderator: Donal P Hanley, Vice President, Legal, Aviation Capital Group
Panelists: Lynne Gochanour, Chapman & Cutler LLP; Susan H. Haught, Daugherty Fowler Peregrin Haught & Jenson; Marie O’Brien, Matheson Ormsby Prentice
“The General Counsel Forum”
Moderator: David Berg, Vice President & General Counsel, Air Transport Association of America
Panelists: Richard B. Hirst, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and General Counsel, Delta Air Lines; Madeline Johnson, Vice President and General Counsel, Southwest Airlines; Maria da Cunha, General Counsel, British Airways; Oliver Furtak, General Counsel, Airbus S.A.S., David Schwarte, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Sabre, Inc.; John Rakow, Senior Vice President, Business & Legal Affairs, Space Systems/Loral
Friday, September 25th:
“Challenges and Opportunities in Aircraft Finance”
Moderator: Andrea Gerber, Vedder Price PC
Panelists: Andrea Brantner, Senior Vice President & Counsel, GE Capital Aviation Services; Loren Dollett, Executive Vice President, Aviation Capital Group; Robert A. Morin, Vice President, Transportation Division, Export-Import Bank of the U.S.
“Labor Relations in a Mature Industry”
Moderator: Steven Taylor, Vice President Legal, FedEx Express
Panelists: Robert DeLucia, Vice President and General Counsel, AIR Conference; Russell Bailey, Air Line Pilots Association; Jerrold Glass, President, F&H Soluntions Group
“Legal and Policy Issues Surrounding Orbital Debris, Space Situational Awareness and Space Traffic Management”
Moderator: Joanne Gabrynowicz, Director, National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law, The University of Mississippi School of law
Panelists: Sam McDonald, Office of Space and Advanced Technology, U.S. Department of State; Karl Kensinger, Satellite Division, International Bureau, Federal Communications Commission; Chris Kunstadter, Vice President Space, XL Insurance
“Litigation: 3-D Legal Review of an Air Disaster”
Moderator: Don Nolan, Nolan Law Group
Panelists: Mark Dombroff, Dombroff Gilmore Jacques & French PC; David Grizzle, Chief Counsel, Federal Aviation Administration; James Hall, Hall & Associates; Tom McLaughliin, Perkins Coie
“Airport Challenges: Young Lawyers Take a Strategic View”
Moderator: Brian Havel, Director, International Aviation law Institute, DePaul University College of Law
Panelists: Sara Hall, General Counsel, Memphis International Airport; Jennifer Andrews, Eckert Seamans; Andrew Eastmond, Ricondo and Associates; Beth Weir, Office of the Chief Counsel, Federal Aviation Administration; Gabriel Sanchez, FedEx/United Research Fellow, International Aviation Law Institute, DePaul University College of Law; India Pinkney, Office of the Chief Counsel, Federal Aviation Administration
by Michael S. Dodge, student blogger
Celestis Inc., a company of Space Services Inc., has announced that it will provide extra-terrestrial burials for its clients. For fees beginning near $10,000, the company says it will be able to launch small amounts of human ashes and deposit them on the Moon as early as 2009. This development stems in part from Celestis’ recent agreement with Odyssey Moon Ltd. and Astrobotic Technology Inc. to utilize their lunar landers to deposit the remains on the moon. “Odyssey Moon and Astrobotic are among private enterprises seeking to land a robotic craft on the moon and conduct scientific experiments. The cremation capsules would remain on the moon with the lunar landers when the missions were complete” (Reuters via Yahoo News). The company initially seeks to deposit up to 1,000 capsules on the moon, and later upwards of 5,000 capsules.
Though surely a service that provides a unique way for the deceased to be remembered, the project is not without potential objections. Depositing capsules onto the moon could present environmental problems, something proscribed by the space law regime and anticipated by the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (the “Outer Space Treaty”), specifically article nine, which states in part that “In the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, States Parties . . . to the Treaty shall pursue studies of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, and conduct exploration of them so as to avoid their harmful contamination . . . and, where necessary, shall adopt appropriate measures for this purpose.” Celestis could expect resistance by some who feel that the placement of human remains on the Moon, especially in the planned quantities, might implicate this provision of the OST—a treaty widely accepted in the international community.
Celestis’ activities may also implicate another, albeit less widely accepted, Treaty in the form of the Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (the “Moon Treaty”), specifically article seven, clause one, which states “In exploring and using the moon, States Parties shall take measures to prevent the disruption of the existing balance of its environment, whether by introducing adverse changes in that environment, by its harmful contamination through the introduction of extra-environmental matter or otherwise. States Parties shall also take measures to avoid harmfully affecting the environment of the earth through the introduction of extraterrestrial matter or otherwise.” Of course, this provision would not apply to Celestis Inc., since its parent company, Space Services, is incorporated in the United States—not a State Party to the Moon Treaty. However, the company could nevertheless open itself up to criticism by individuals and States-Parties to the Moon Treaty for what may be perceived as environmentally irresponsible actions.
Source: Reuters (via Yahoo News)