Broadcast 3655 Mark Sundahl and T.L. Masson

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

The Space Foundation Conference

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Guests:  Mark Sundahl and Tanja (T.L.) Masson;  Topics:  Legal challenges for developing outer space, the Moon, Mars and more from both a US and international legal perspective.


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We welcomed Mark Sundahl back to the program along with the co-author of the paper, "The Lunar Legal Landscape: Challenges and Opportunities," Tanya (T.L) Masson.  Please check out the impressive legal credentials in the bios for both guests.  Said bios have been posted to our website.  In addition, a link to the abstract and introduction to their paper has been made available on the blog for this program.  Mark Sundahl started our discussion by reminding us that we were in very exciting and challenging time.  He said the technology was there, financing was available and now was the time for the legal challenges to lead us into advanced space development.  Mark introduced us to Tanja who talked about it having been a long time, more than 5-6 years to now to get us all to the point of these exciting space development times.

Tanya talked about the need for the law to keep up with technology, engineering, science and the availability of capital.  I asked if priorities were listed in their paper, that is what legal challenges should be addressed first, especially with our sights set on the Moon.  Mark addressed this question, talked about a list of challenges including asteroid and resource mining, plus both Tanja and Mark discussed the law being either pre-active or reactive.  Don't miss this part of our discussion.

Mark mentioned best practices for space law, then said there were none at this time.  He then talked about developing "recommended" practices that would also enhance investment.  Tanja referred to Artemis and the Lunar Gateway.  She was asking if the OST and The Artemis Accords were in alignment with one another.  Evidently this is a legal concern in the space law arena.  Mark added comments about a Mars rulebook plus he offered some regulatory commentary.  Both bilateral and multi-lateral agreements came up in this discussion.

Listener Todd sent in an email asking about two types of space law.  One for China, one for the US and the west.  He wanted to know if there would be a two track legal system for lunar and general space development.  Don't miss how both of our guests responded to Todd's question.  Next, listener William asked about space settlement and the law.  Our guests said there was no space settlement law at this time.  Don't miss it.  We talked more about U.S. law, imaging law, the FCC and communication regulations, plus other specific types of regulations.  Space debris was the next subject getting the attention of both our guests.

Space debris was a big discussion topic with specific attention paid the LEO satellite constellations with thousands of satellites planned for various low Earth orbit destinations.  Our guests talked about the FCC and federal government licensing of the mega constellations but said there were challenges and issues to be concerned with for this business sector.  Our guests also talked about adopting law and regs in advance rather than doing it later on as a knee jerk reaction which might cause problems and hurt investment.  The military and DOD interest was mentioned.  All of this led to commentary about sustainability for our space development efforts, projects and activities.  Other topics mentioned in this section included space traffic management along with space situational awareness concerns. 

Tanja talked specifically about their paper and introduced us to the concept "Due Regard."  As I understand it, this refers to respecting the other parties.  Consulting other parties for potential interference issues would be part of this process.  Next, we were surprised with a call from Marshall.  It was good to hear form him and we hope he continues his Covid healing process.  Marshall talked about politicians, cost factors for law and regulations and who typically pays for all of this legal scholarship regarding space law matters.  Tanja talked about many of the space folks being academics or government agency attorneys so they would be paid by their employers.  Lobbyist were mentioned as was the U.N.  Marshall concluded that it was all a type of mish mash with everything tossed in and mixed up together.  Be sure to hear the short discussion with Marshall and our guests.

As we were nearing the end of the program, Becky asked Tanja if space was a commons.  Don't miss what our guest said in response to this question.  The global commons questions was followed with one from listener Jeff out of Boston asking if space settlements would evolve to having their own law separate from Earth law.  Don't miss this discussion but our guests did say such an evolution would take place over a long period of time.  They then brought up the recent Musk commentary about Mars creating its own law.  In winding up our discussion, both guests offered us summary and closing comments.

Please post your comments/questions on our blog for this show.  You can reach our guests through me or their website or their paper.




Lunar Legal Landscape Challenges, Opportunities and more.

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07 Mar 2021 Dr. Mark J. Sundahl, Tanja (T.L.) Masson-Zwaan
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  • The Space Foundation Conference

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  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference