I spent this past weekend in Chattanooga, Tennessee at LibertyCon 30. From Gray Rinehart’s rendition of the science fiction convention’s theme song set to the tune of David Bowie’s Space Oddity to the panels on new planets, the programming was a delight. So were the people. I got to see and talk to one of my favorite writers, Sarah A. Hoyt, who is a mentor to many new writers as well as the author of the fabulous Darkship books. My new friend Cheri Partain showed up again this year and created a marvelous slide for my books. Thank you, Cheri! I was also able to say hello to Dorothy Grant, meet Stephen Simmons, and have a long chat with Jeff Duntemann, who gave me the idea for doing a long essay on space law for science fiction writers. I am seriously considering this notion.
Jeff’s idea for the essay grew out of a couple of talks I did on space law. In the first, I talked about the three space regulatory agencies: the FAA, which regulates space transportation by U.S. persons to and from Earth (yes, anywhere in the world); the FCC, which regulates satellite transmissions to and from the United States; and NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the Department of Commerce), which regulates the remote sensing of Earth. In the second talk I addressed treaty barriers to space exploration. My own view is that it is possible to interpret the space treaties so that they do not serve as barriers. We do not need to regulate everything any U.S. person does in outer space. We do not need to impose heavy planetary protection costs on private operators. And, we do not need to read Article II of the Outer Space Treaty to prohibit private ownership of property in outer space.
If you are interested in space law in the science fiction context, I sometimes discuss fiction at my space law blog, GroundBasedSpaceMatters.com. For instance, this post is about how another favorite science fiction writer broke my nerdy space law heart.by