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XCOR COO Warns That Proposed State Department Rule Could Cripple Space Tourism

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the pie-in-the-sky dept.

Space 105

MarkWhittington writes "Andrew Nelson, the chief operating officer of XCOR Aerospace, a company that proposes to take paying customers on suborbital jaunts on its Lynx rocketplane, posted some good news/bad news concerning some proposed rule changes from the State Department on June 3, 2013. On the good news side, the Department of State has proposed changes (PDF) that would move satellites from the Department of Defense's Munitions list, where they have been since 1999, to the Department of Commerce's commerce control list. 'This is a great step for the industry. Since the time commercial satellites were placed on the munitions list in 1999, the commercial satellite industry was almost wiped out.' On the bad news side, the State Department proposes to place commercial manned spacecraft on the DOD munitions list, making it very difficult if not impossible to fly them outside the United States. 'This is the same backward path provided to the US satellite manufacturing and launch community two decades ago that almost decimated that industry.'"

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It is obvious. (4, Interesting)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43907827)

That one person or very few people in our government are exerting almost complete totalitarian control over what goes up and comes down from space.

This is patently UN American. It is the antithesis to the spirit of freedom and exploration.

Can we please take this power away from these few individuals and at least tie it up in bureaucratic red tape so we can build an industry to lobby for its control later on before we miss this golden opportunity...

Oh well. Screw it. It never was about science, tech, or enlightenment (despite the all seeing eye being on everything), always politics, greed, and fear.

Re:It is obvious. (5, Funny)

dpidcoe (2606549) | about a year ago | (#43907995)

This is patently UN American. It is the antithesis to the spirit of freedom and exploration.

Can we please take this power away from these few individuals and at least tie it up in bureaucratic red tape so we can build an industry to lobby for its control later on before we miss this golden opportunity...

Yeah! Someone should form a committee to investigate these un-american activities.

Re:It is obvious. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43908023)

That was a very valid point, why don't you kiss the governments a$$ some place else, jerk!

Re:It is obvious. (4, Interesting)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43908045)

Or at least we should make a Department of Space Transportation. Unrelated to Homeland Security. It could still be under the executive branch, and Civil.

The only reasoning behind this crazy system I can envision is NORAD and Russia's counterpart. Not wanting to ever see launches without them being scheduled over DEFCON type situations.

Still munititions is way overboard for a manned space mission. It is laughable.

Or just extend international maritime law into space. We have other treaties as well. I don't think they stipulate issues like this. In fact the ruling is probably to play into the wording of those treaties deliberately.

Re:It is obvious. (3, Informative)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#43909049)

It's because people are worried that US space technology will get to Iran or North Korea. Even though both those countries already have space programmes there is no reason to accelerate them.

For the US classifying stuff as a munition is just a way to control its export, like they did with strong encryption for years.

Re:It is obvious. (2)

Medievalist (16032) | about a year ago | (#43913891)

For the US classifying stuff as a munition is just a way to control its export, like they did with strong encryption for years.

Yeah, because that totally worked. Thanks to our heroic and ever-vigilant government doing its very best to hamper the free exchange of ideas, nobody outside the USA has ever had strong encryption. I can't tell you how much safer I feel.

Re:It is obvious. (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43915473)

I agree I'm not that worried about munitions specifically designed to carry people. That can be worded into the regs at the very least and made permissible. Someone else made the valid argument that "yes a bomb could be carried on one" and "planes can be munitions". That is a very valid point.

However this requires economics. And we can limit "export" to specific countries such as NK, not the entire world and outer space.

Re:It is obvious. (2)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about a year ago | (#43909477)

Or at least we should make a Department of Space Transportation. Unrelated to Homeland Security. It could still be under the executive branch, and Civil.

We already have a Department of Transportation, which is where any regulatory agency for space flight belongs. The key is to start thinking of space travel as, you know, transportation rather than something new and different and scary. Unfortunately, it seems like we're still stuck with IN SPAAACE slapped onto things, kind of like ON THE INTERNET. Only with even less excuse, since the internet was still purely theoretical when Sputnik was launched, and barely a glimmer when Apollo 11 landed.

But you can guarantee DHS/TSA will get their noses in there somehow.

Re: It is obvious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43913033)

Another department. Surely, you jest.

Re: It is obvious. (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43915325)

Actually no. But spreading the work load around and giving the process enough complexity so that many voices can be heard on the issue (Including the CEO's of XCOR and the 5 Star Generals at NORAD, and those guys on in the DMZ in NK) is a good thing for a Democratic Republic (Federation) thing...

If were going with institutional government than organization is a good thing. It makes it easier to hold people accountable when they make mistakes too. Not burning at the stake accountable... but you know possibly fired at least and sent to apply for WOTC with everyone else at McDonalds.

Re: It is obvious. (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43915457)

Perhaps firing them might be harsh but what do you do when people consistently mismanage their business unit on a regular basis? U.S.A. incorporated and all that... =)

Re:It is obvious. (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#43908093)

I would like to state at this time that I am not now nor have I ever been a member of the US State Department...

Re:It is obvious. (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43909935)

I get your point. I don't advocate which hunts either. So I apologize if I came off that way. Just that this seems disproportionate and not in our best interest.

Re:It is obvious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43910537)

*witch

Re:It is obvious. (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#43913689)

Actually, I agree with your point entirely. I don't know about dpidcoe, but my post was meant in jest.

Re:It is obvious. (1)

istartedi (132515) | about a year ago | (#43908825)

I think this might be a reference to HUAC [wikipedia.org] that flew over some people's heads. We shouldn't allow references to do that without approval.

Re:It is obvious. (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43908953)

Not intentional. But if you really want to go off the deep end. Mr Skull and Bones from the Forbes pedigree has friends in the UN. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bureau_of_United_Nations_Affairs [wikipedia.org]

Again unintentional. And yes I saw the 1950's cartoon about un American vs American values. And how its all our differences of opinion that make us unique little special buttercups in a melting pot and that we shouldn't single out individual opinions... etc..

But if you realize, that http://www.ted.com/talks/lawrence_lessig_we_the_people_and_the_republic_we_must_reclaim.html [ted.com] We voted for a limited set of candidates. And that these candidates a point these positions.

I would be the first to call for certain forms of political reform. What I mean about this being unamerican is that it is intended to control and dicatate peoples ability to freely and equally compete in a sector of our society. Something that I never swore to uphold while pledging to serve the consitution of the United States of America.

I don't know what else to call it. I'm actually open to suggestions. Even if you think I'm being stupid.

Re:It is obvious. (1)

istartedi (132515) | about a year ago | (#43908995)

My comment was directed at dpidcoe (2606549) who appeared to be implying that your suggestion might lead to another HUAC and/or a repeat of McCarthyism. Interesting side note, the Wiki article explains that McCarthy was never actually a part of HUAC.

Anyway, I'm not interested in going down the UN rabbit hole discussion right now...

Re:It is obvious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909007)

No problem =)

Re: It is obvious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43913037)

That's because McCarthy was a Senator. HUAC was, well, a House committee. Facts are such troublesome things.

Re:It is obvious. (1)

Ecuador (740021) | about a year ago | (#43909471)

Don't worry, this time it will be ok, just don't put in charge anyone from the military or any polititian. Choose someone simple and well known, e.g. a TV personality like Jenny McCarthy!

Re:It is obvious. (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about a year ago | (#43913613)

Who could profit from such a law? Maybe Boeing?

Just a thought, but what would a 3D Printer solution applied to this become?

Re:It is obvious. (4, Insightful)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year ago | (#43908057)

That one person or very few people in our government are exerting almost complete totalitarian control over what goes up and comes down from space.

This is patently UN American. It is the antithesis to the spirit of freedom and exploration.

Can we please take this power away from these few individuals and at least tie it up in bureaucratic red tape so we can build an industry to lobby for its control later on before we miss this golden opportunity...

Oh well. Screw it. It never was about science, tech, or enlightenment (despite the all seeing eye being on everything), always politics, greed, and fear.

You should stop and think who benefits and who gets hurt by this new restriction. One only has to look at which DOD contractors are also involved with space flight to answer that question.

Re:It is obvious. (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#43909137)

It sounds like the rest of the world is going to benefit the most. Russia is already well ahead in space tourism but it did look for a while like the US was about to catch up and overtake it. It will be interesting to see what happens to Virgin Galactic, since they are EU/UK based.

Re:It is obvious. (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year ago | (#43909183)

It sounds like the rest of the world is going to benefit the most. Russia is already well ahead in space tourism but it did look for a while like the US was about to catch up and overtake it. It will be interesting to see what happens to Virgin Galactic, since they are EU/UK based.

As long as Russia or Virgin Galactic or anybody else aren't using patents or technology that is now considered classified for national security reasons by the DOD and they have to find new ways to accomplish it. Look how long it took Boeing to reengineer their battery problem. How long would it take to do that for a space craft and get it re-certified? If the US has fallen behind, the front runners only have to be delayed long enough to allow the US to catch back up.

Re:It is obvious. (4, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#43908059)

Unsurprisingly, also addressed in Planetes. [animenewsnetwork.com] Space terrorists believed the unfair regulations against lesser nations were being used to the economic and political gain of the more powerful nations while creating an even wider gulf between more and less powerful nations.

TLDNW: When you look down on our precious blue planet from space, there are no borders.

All the politics, greed, and fear in the Universe is dwarfed by the vulnerability of the planet, and our need for progress outside our home among the stars in order to protect it and thus all life in this corner of the cosmos. If that progress be spurned by power and greed, so be it. If cautiousness is not minded proportionate to the risk, we stand more to loose than a few years of progress. I say let the small space satellites and shuttles advance. Just like nuclear weapons, if the enemy were to bombard us with mass from orbital platforms, then so will we be able to.

Mutually assured destruction sounds evil, but when I think about it, that's all we've ever had since before the first tribe of man came to trust their members. The only way to gain trust and prosper as a species is to cautiously operate in the same spaces of technology and industry; To shake hands and mutually cause any hidden knives to fall from our sleeves; To become more interdependent on each other; To cautiously take equal risks while never loosing sight of the worlds all mankind is charged to protect.

It's easy to dismiss such caution as irrational fear, corrupt greed, and political control. The truth is that right now we only have one world. One basket carries all our eggs at present. I would say extreme cautiousness is warranted, but should be proscribed according to actual risk, not perceived threat. If we can not take the risk of shaking hands with those we feel threatened by, they can never prove non threatening and can never become our friends. The more self sustaining footholds life wins itself in the Universe, the more reckless we can be, the more progress we can take at risk.

TLDR: Let's not throw caution to the wind and fuck it all up forever.

Re:It is obvious. (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43908177)

Thanks for the write up. I agree to some degree =). But I thought we were a democracy and that we would try to do this the democratic way. I suppose technically it is. But it does not "feel" like it.

Re:It is obvious. (1)

game kid (805301) | about a year ago | (#43908061)

It was never about enlightment. Sauron just wanted to get the government to use his all-seeing eye for royalties. It worked.

So use Russian launchers... (3, Informative)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about a year ago | (#43908073)

After all, it's Soyuz [wikipedia.org] that keeps the ISS manned, and Proton [wikipedia.org] that provides most of its supplies. No US components or technology (maybe some really ancient/proven stuff).

Re:It is obvious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43908325)

I feel like I may have started off a little heavy handed so I did some research.

These are the duties of the Department of State as per wikipedia [wikipedia.org] . They jive with whats stated on the website http://careers.state.gov/learn/what-we-do [state.gov]
Protecting and assisting U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad;
Assisting U.S. businesses in the international marketplace;
Coordinating and providing support for international activities of other U.S. agencies (local, state, or federal government), official visits overseas and at home, and other diplomatic efforts.
Keeping the public informed about U.S. foreign policy and relations with other countries and providing feedback from the public to administration officials.
Providing automobile registration for non-diplomatic staff vehicles and the vehicles of diplomats of foreign countries having diplomatic immunity in the United States.[14]

So it is well within their Jurisdiction I suppose. But I figured space tourism wasn't really a foreign or diplomatic issue.

No, it is very American (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year ago | (#43909105)

That one person or very few people in our government are exerting almost complete totalitarian control over what goes up and comes down from space.

This is patently UN American.

The IRS decides that only groups with leftist names can be considered non-profits.

The DOJ decides that mexican drug lords can get all of the rifles we can ship to them while attempting to limit in any was possible U.S. citizen ownership and carrying of firearms.

I'm not quite sure what makes you think one government group doing what all the others are doing in different ways is un-american? It seems quite the American fashion now for a small handful to dictate behavior for a nation.

Re:No, it is very American (1, Flamebait)

saihung (19097) | about a year ago | (#43911873)

The IRS decides that only groups with leftist names can be considered non-profits.

Except that isn't what happened. None of those groups were actually denied non-profit status. Meanwhile, when the Bush-era IRS did exactly the same thing to "leftist" groups, none of the current batch of tea bag imbeciles cared in the least. Sod 'em, they deserved the extra scrutiny. After all, they're all just astroturfers funded by the Koch brothers anyway.

while attempting to limit in any was possible U.S. citizen ownership and carrying of firearms.

Oh, I see my mistake. You're stupid. Whoops, never mind.

Re:No, it is very American (1, Informative)

_Sharp'r_ (649297) | about a year ago | (#43911969)

None of those groups were actually denied non-profit status

Having your tax exempt status held up for years while they hassle you any way they can think of, asking for donor lists, copies of everything you publish, everyone who's ever worked for or with you, any other groups you associate with, etc... so that you can be discouraged from doing anything and your efforts can be delayed beyond election dates is a total abuse of power. Especially while similar, but left-wing groups are sailing through and other Obama-related groups are getting special treatment with approval times measured in a few days to get fast tracked to the head of the agency and approved for retroactive tax exempt status back years instead of fined for never applying, but claiming it.

The bias and abuses of power are practically endless. Here's comprehensive coverage from the TaxProf [typepad.com] .

Look, when even Jon Stewart is making fun of the IRS and their "being audited" [thedailyshow.com] , you know it's bad.

Re:It is obvious. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43910661)

Can we please take this power away from these few individuals and at least tie it up in bureaucratic red tape so we can build an industry to lobby for its control later on before we miss this golden opportunity...

it's a bummer for the USA, but space projects will just move to africa or brazil or some other place more equatorial.

Re:It is obvious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43915085)

It isn't just a few, it's all of them. You make it sound like a 'few' clerks, or a 'few' flunky managers, run the country. Bad news for ya. Nothing gets done unless the bosses say so. Nothing gets undone unless the bosses say so. Period. End of story. The government is corrupt and until high level people are held accountable it will become more corrupt not less. Do you see anyone being held accountable? No, wake up, they are promoting all these mid-level people involved with every scandals to seal off the people at the top.

Virgin Intergalactic (4, Interesting)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#43907831)

Does this mean Virgin Intergalactic will be offshoring their operation, like what happened with RSA when the government pressured them on crypto?

Re:Virgin Intergalactic (2)

houstonbofh (602064) | about a year ago | (#43907943)

No doubt. Belize and the Yucatan would work very well. The hard part will be getting the research and data out now, unless it was stored offshore to begin with.

Re:Virgin Intergalactic (3, Interesting)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#43908037)

This is presently just a proposed rule. If Branson moves quickly, he can do whatever he pleases within the present rules.

Re:Virgin Intergalactic (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43908055)

No, it means they couldn't off-shore.

The vehicles are all designed and built in the US and couldn't be legally exported without a license. The plans for them couldn't be exported. The engineers couldn't even talk to any none US citizen about them. This could cause real problems for Virgin even if they fly only in the US, since they are a UK company.

Unless they started completely over and designed and built a vehicle entirely outside the US, they would need an (expensive and time consuming) export license. Virgin might have the resources for it, but XCOR would likely be up the creek.

Re:Virgin Intergalactic (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#43908083)

This is a proposal at this point, not an active rule. If I were Branson, I'd get moving.

Re:Virgin Intergalactic (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909081)

SpaceShip One is just a starter proposal - all he ever wants out of it is to cover his costs.

When you really start getting tourism going you're going to need something bigger. Something like SKYLON...which IS 100% British...

http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/space_skylon.html

Re:Virgin Intergalactic (2)

Hadlock (143607) | about a year ago | (#43909143)

SpaceX was founded in 2002. In 10 years they had designed and built two different rockets (Falcon 1, Falcon 9) and three (soon to be four) different production revisions of their engine. Their total R&D cost was under a billion dollars.
 
Given what's known about SpaceX's manufacturing techniques it's not at all implausible that Mexico or Brazil would start up their own state sponsored orbital company. The rest of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) already have their own highly active space programs. India should have a man in space no later than 2020.
 
Access to space, and the plans to get there, are getting cheaper and more accessible.

Re:Virgin Intergalactic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909901)

But to whom...

Re:Virgin Intergalactic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43910711)

No because its a sacrificial virgin... *cough, cough, cry*

does orbit count as export? (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43907839)

because otherwise, aren't the facilities for american space tourist corps inside usa?

(on another note, space tourism has been subject of pop sci type of magazine articles for some fifteen years now.. and all companies that could put something to orbit have more lucrative payloads)

Re:does orbit count as export? (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#43908119)

I'm not a lawyer or anything, but I'm pretty sure orbit does count as outside the boundaries of the United States and therefore "export." The Eisenhower administration insisted that satellites overflying and spying on the Soviet Union were not violating Soviet sovereign territory, and that's now a precedent that's been in place for > 50 years. I infer that space is similar to international waters, from a legal point of view.

Re:does orbit count as export? (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#43908219)

No one cares about sovereign territory. It all comes down to taxes. The government does nothing if not collect taxes. During Apollo 13, Jack Swigert was allowed a 60-day extension on filing his income taxes as the IRS had determined he was out of the country when they were due.

Orbit fine: landing an issue (2)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about a year ago | (#43908431)

According to the article satellites currently are counted as munitions and they end up in orbit so, regardless of how US law deals with it, it must be possible to launch "munitions" into orbit. My guess is that the problem will occur when you try to land after achieving orbit: you will need to land back i the US. However, since Virgin Galactic just gets you to the boundary of space and back without achieving orbit, the only human orbital capability at the moment is russian.

Re:Orbit fine: landing an issue (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#43909435)

According to the article satellites currently are counted as munitions and they end up in orbit so, regardless of how US law deals with it, it must be possible to launch "munitions" into orbit.

As I understand it, you can launch them on US rockets from US launch sites, or you can buy them from a non-US company and launch them on non-US rockets from non-US launch sites, or you can spend large amounts of time and money to get permission to launch US satellites on a non-US rocket from a non-US launch site.

Re:Orbit fine: landing an issue (1)

tibman (623933) | about a year ago | (#43914565)

It does seem silly to put tourists inside munitions and launch them at the sky though.

Translation: An ICBM with a passenger cabin..... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43907845)

Is still an ICBM.

captcha: culpable

Re:Translation: An ICBM with a passenger cabin.... (3, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43907959)

That's crazy talk. Everybody knows that warheads just shrivel up if you provide them with life support and cushy seats!

Re:Translation: An ICBM with a passenger cabin.... (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43915509)

Just to be smart ass. Providing people with the opportunity to participate in peaceful activities they enjoy while supporting themselves and their families usually results in more peaceful behavior.

So what? (1)

JockTroll (996521) | about a year ago | (#43907939)

Other countries will develop their own private space programmes (http://www.s-3.ch/en/home) and ignore US laws. Space rockets are nazikraut tech after all, so it's not a US exclusive.

Take'm down! (3, Interesting)

canadiannomad (1745008) | about a year ago | (#43907955)

Once again the US trying to enforce laws outside of its jurisdiction...

So my question is what would they do about it? Shoot down a rocket with 12 rich blokes on a joy ride into space? I would be interested in how the media would cover that...

I actually don't mind the DOD being interested in such vessels, but they likely they need to (re-)assess its internal processes into how it will track, monitor and authorize vessels heading into space.

Re:Take'm down! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43907999)

The people would disappear, be slandered, the IRS would confiscate their money. It wouldn't happen all at once. People would end up doing drugs. Car accidents. And of course conspiracy.

Probably some kind of save the children criminal charges levied somewhere crucial. Even rich and powerful organizations and people are able to be leveraged.

But these guys wanting to send people up in space are not rich. Their in debt. Their entire industry is on the red line. All their assets and everything they own could be lost if they can't get a customer.

Their only competition so far is in Kazakhstan at the old space launch facility the U.S. and E.U. pays out the nose for services from. Russia the worst.

This whole god damned thing is one giant bloody mess.

Re:Take'm down! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43908069)

Another government a$$ kisser, why make fun? It makes no sense unless your a government lap dog fool.

Re:Take'm down! (5, Interesting)

kaiser423 (828989) | about a year ago | (#43908035)

Well, considering that the US DOD is just about the only agency that tracks everything into orbit (other than Russia but we cooperate and share significantly with them, so it's about the same) pretty much everyone has to ask their permission first. Otherwise they risk slamming into some piece of space debris, micro satellite or other very bad thing. The Europeans have a pretty good system now, but they don't track as many objects or as many small objects as the US does.

So, really it's about practicality. No insurer and no sane person would put a space plane into orbit without first checking with the DOD that that orbit was safe. Given that most launches I've been party to have had to have their orbit adjusted some either in launch time or actual orbital trajectories due to the potential for collisions, I think that they would have a really, really hard time getting any insurance or any sane person to sign on if the DOD wasn't going to vet the trajectory before launch. Sure, a satellite could risk it, but not an orbital space tourism plane with people on board.

Re:Take'm down! (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43908095)

You make a really good point why we need a process for this. (I still laugh at 'munitions') being used as the terminology in the article. You would think all the people who have a very vested interest in the stuff they have in orbit would want to ensure the safety of their property. That probably plays quite a bit into it.

That does not lessen the safety that others would want for the tourists.

Re:Take'm down! (1)

canadiannomad (1745008) | about a year ago | (#43908285)

Very good points, thanks for the insight!

Re:Take'm down! (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#43908813)

Well, considering that the US DOD is just about the only agency that tracks everything into orbit (other than Russia but we cooperate and share significantly with them, so it's about the same) pretty much everyone has to ask their permission first. Otherwise they risk slamming into some piece of space debris, micro satellite or other very bad thing. The Europeans have a pretty good system now, but they don't track as many objects or as many small objects as the US does.

So, really it's about practicality. No insurer and no sane person would put a space plane into orbit without first checking with the DOD that that orbit was safe. Given that most launches I've been party to have had to have their orbit adjusted some either in launch time or actual orbital trajectories due to the potential for collisions, I think that they would have a really, really hard time getting any insurance or any sane person to sign on if the DOD wasn't going to vet the trajectory before launch. Sure, a satellite could risk it, but not an orbital space tourism plane with people on board.

That seems like awfully bad publicity for the US -- "India launched it's first space plane today, which was quickly annihilated with the loss of all on board after slamming into a secret US satellite. When asked for comment the US DoD said 'Well yeah, they asked if it was safe, but since we don't want other countries launching people into space without our permission, we wouldn't tell them that they were going to run into it.'"

Re:Take'm down! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43908131)

So my question is what would they do about it? Shoot down a rocket with 12 rich blokes on a joy ride into space?

No. Just arrest and charge anyone in the US who is involve, deny entry to the US or arrest on arrival anyone involved not from the US, freeze bank accounts, intimidate suppliers, pressure countries for extradition. In extreme cases, threaten economic sanctions against the nation or nations hosting the flights. All perfectly legal and devastating to a company that must make a profit.

An export license isn't impossible to get, merely time consuming and expensive and so likely to put at least some companies out of business. Almost everyone prefers to go bankrupt rather than go to prison.

Re:Take'm down! (1)

canadiannomad (1745008) | about a year ago | (#43908303)

I agree that is likely what they would do... Regardless of what country the players are from. (frown)

Though "munitions" really is a bad term for what amounts to an airplane that goes extra high relative to our little blue orb.

Re:Take'm down! (2)

Dahamma (304068) | about a year ago | (#43908147)

No, of course not. And there would be no need for anything like that. All they have to do is arrest those who launched the craft and confiscate their equipment, same as any other violation. That would end it pretty fast (and the space tourism companies know that, so they wouldn't bother trying).

What I think is absurd about this is when properly managed, it really shouldn't be much different from the commercial airline industry. I mean, several aircraft were used as munitions already, does that mean the FAA should now be placed under the DOD and commercial international flights banned?

Re:Take'm down! (1)

canadiannomad (1745008) | about a year ago | (#43908271)

I hope you realize I was talking in jest about taking them down....

Regardless I totally agree with you about it being very similar to the airline industry. I also totally agree that the DOD needs some involvement if only because it is one of the few agencies that actually knows most of what is up there.

Re:Take'm down! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909141)

If they donate to the DNC the government will celebrate them as heros.
If they don't they will be the devil incarnate.

Its basically gotten that the federal government is taking control of every aspect of life and if you are on the correct political side everything will be easy for you, otherwise you are an enemy of the state. This is just a warning to any company wanting to do space tourism to start donating or shut your doors.

Re:Take'm down! (1)

thrich81 (1357561) | about a year ago | (#43909239)

To all the uninformed -- being on the State Dept's Munition's List just means that the US will not allow US developed technology to be exported without a license. The US Government has no issue with items or technology developed by OTHER countries which fill the same function. So anyone in Canada, Russia, Somalia, whatever, is free to develop their own commercial manned spacecraft and launch them as much as they want, unaffected at all by this State Dept decision. They just can't do it using US parts or technology without an export license and in some cases they can't do it from US territory without a license. So, all you non-USians upset about this, get off your butts and develop your own, independent manned spacecraft, and show the US up! Or quit whining.

Re:Take'm down! (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year ago | (#43909931)

Once again the US trying to enforce laws outside of its jurisdiction...

How exactly? These laws cover US corporations, operations on US soil, and/or launching from US territory. On top of that, by international law, such vehicles remain the responsibility of the US government. So, while you've quoted a popular meme, that's about the end of your intellectual accomplishments.
 

So my question is what would they do about it? Shoot down a rocket with 12 rich blokes on a joy ride into space? I would be interested in how the media would cover that...

More lowbrow chest beating... No, no need to shoot anyone down, as much as you and similar ignorant jackasses would like them to in order to provide you with stroke material. The existing laws provide sufficient penalties - fines and possibly jail time for the offending individuals.

Re:Take'm down! (1)

canadiannomad (1745008) | about a year ago | (#43910437)

Why don't you read the rest of my comments in this thread before going all high and mighty?

Re:Take'm down! (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year ago | (#43911667)

The rest of your comments are irrelevant - I'm addressing the vast ignorance and stupidity in this one. (Not that your other comments are much better,)

Re:Take'm down! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43912077)

Natural resources, hazards to the public, are both involved in launching satellites and space craft. To ask the public's consent is fine when the benefits flow back to all of society. But to allow space launches for tourism is overly permissive. At the start one assumes the occasional flight would be the rule of the day but imagine if we had thousands of launches a day and the effect on this planet that we all share. We also need an effective program to sweep up space junk that is in orbit. Since we can't even remove the junk in our oceans any expectation that we could clean up orbital space lacks credibility.

But how do you... (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | about a year ago | (#43907967)

But how to you orbit within the United States? Or are we claiming all of space now?

Re:But how do you... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#43908015)

You'd have to go straight to geostationary, without using a transfer orbit. Doable in theory, but much less efficient.

of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43908025)

When the Government lost the ability for manned flight they would have to make things so that the private sector would be still in their control.

This is less about export (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43908079)

...and more about ITAR.

I can't tell you how much of a pain in the ass ITAR is to deal with when experts on various aspects of the mission the satellite needs to accomplish are foreign nationals.

It's fascinating to me (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#43908109)

to see how many people seem to believe that proposed rules are already in effect. Please read the article a bit more carefully, guys.

That said, this rule really shows how crazy the US government has gotten.

Re:It's fascinating to me (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43908849)

I'm not sure how this proposition works. Is it something that needs to go before congress to be voted on in the house and senate? Who submits it? The Secretary of State? If thats a case it makes a lot more sense. But they really should think about better wording and more specifics about civilian passengers on vessels. Vs munitions and technology export issues.

If you have a sea vessel with a radar system. Is it subject to ITAR if it is mounted on the vessel for operation and you are not trading it or transporting it for commerce?

Can they even stop you from using home built electronics overseas if you built them yourself for non commercial reasons?

It would make sense to interpret space transport laws in the same way. Even if disparate entities end up governing each celestial body in the end.

Re:It's fascinating to me (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#43913939)

If it's anything like other "regulations" in the United States, Congress won't really be involved at all, and if they are, it will just be a quick consent. Thanks to the creation of countless agencies with "regulatory" power granted by congress, rules with the force of law seem to be created all the time without properly being legislated and debated by our elected officials. Not that they are good at doing so on most days...

Re:It's fascinating to me (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43915431)

Thanks =) In a way this is just a flop around of the previous regulations. It is good like the article mentioned for regular commercial satellites which are primarily launched by conventional tech. But could kill these guys developing these really nice spaceplanes. Which are part of what we need. I see this as a deliberate attempt to put technology back into someone else's hands and take it away from new entrepreneurs who were trying to fill the void left by the shuttle program.

Re:It's fascinating to me (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43915925)

*proposed flop around on existing regulations sorry OMG... =/ I failed hard at that one.

Any history anyone? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43908399)

The empire that keeps trade routes open prospers.

The empire that lords over its own people falters, and a new core of empire forms on its outskirts.

Retracting empire doesn't care if it's age-old dictatorship and corruption, or if it's gigatons of well-meaning regulation. Set that down in stone.

Re:Any history anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43911015)

You pretty much got it right.

Don't worry! (1)

stevenh2 (1853442) | about a year ago | (#43908623)

The Chinese or Russians will build them instead. They are capable of doing this and the American industry will sink.

Re:Don't worry! (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43909031)

So what does that mean for the people who aren't in China or Russia or the USA?

Re:Don't worry! (1)

stevenh2 (1853442) | about a year ago | (#43909519)

They can export it. Unlike where, in the USA the export would be illegal.

Re:Don't worry! (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43910603)

How do you export commercial space travel?

Re:Don't worry! (2)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43911023)

In soviet Russia it exports itself =)

Decimate doesn't mean that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909625)

So, did that rule nearly wipe out commercial satellites or did it only decimate it?

Re:Decimate doesn't mean that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43910977)

90% left intact? I don't see the problem...

Not dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909805)

What he should have said is that it would cripple space tourism from the US. Other countries would be happy to jump in and take up the slack.

Re:Not dead (2)

GrpA (691294) | about a year ago | (#43911025)

This doesn't just affect the US - Australia and the UK are in lock-step with the US by treaty, and so will automatically implement the same restrictions under their own legislation. ( eg, US-Australia Defence Treaty, US-UK Defence treaty )

GrpA

PGP (1)

cstacy (534252) | about a year ago | (#43909913)

Maybe a company in some other country will implement Pretty Good Payload.

To some extent this makes sense (1)

jonwil (467024) | about a year ago | (#43910769)

Restricting the export of rockets under export control makes sense when you think about how 90% of modern space rocketry in the US is ultimately derived from ICBM programs (the first Americans in space all went into orbit on modified Redstone, Atlas and Titan ICBMs)

Cool! (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year ago | (#43911277)

This is very good news for the rest of the world. The best thing the USA has done to stimulate the foreign high tech industry was the ITAR law and now this. This is a great opportunity for us.

Meanwhile in Russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43911311)

When Manned space flight is classified as a "Munition" in the USA....

Only Russians can get a Man to the Space Station.

DOH....

Re:Meanwhile in Russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43912565)

When manned space flight is considered munition ... ... does that mean the U.S. are planning suicide attacks from space?

Captcha: misuse

That's OK, They'll Do It Anyway (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about a year ago | (#43911839)

And if you're a PERSON who knows something about SPACECRAFT, you, too, will be considered a munition.

Re:That's OK, They'll Do It Anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43912579)

And if you're a PERSON who knows something about SPACECRAFT, you, too, will be considered a munition.

Well, at least then they cannot get you to Guantanamo, because that's outside the U.S. ;-)

Ho hum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43912111)

This sounds like an American problem. Great for the rest of the world if the yanks can't get their act together. Who says they own space?

Of course this is a bad idea, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43915679)

The losses in the satellite launch business were due to the suspension of the space shuttle program after the Columbia broke up during re-entry coupled with the beginning of the Chinese commercial satellite launch program. Any new developments will find their way to the Chinese if the Commerce Department is in control. You can spend billions developing the best and safest orbital delivery system but, with hookers and a relatively small amount of cash, the designs for your system will be left on a laptop in an unlocked car. A year later the Chinese will be mass producing launch vehicles that look and perform just like yours does (they might change the paint).

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