More red tape in space.

Another look at this week’s hearings on space regulation: More red tape in space.

“As the prospects for a greater number of commercial-transportation vehicles in space increase, it is time to consider closing the current regulatory and safety gap between launch and re-entry,” said George Nield, the FAA associate administrator for commercial space transportation, in remarks this week before Congress.

Yeah, that “gap” is an area where freedom exists, where federal regulators like Nield can’t get their grubby paws on what people do and tell them how to do it. Gotta close that gap, can’t have people doing what they want, can we?

Update: Here’s another report, indicating the same eagerness of the FAA to impose its will on private space.

The Obama State Department has rejected the European code of conduct for space

The Obama State Department made it known today that it has rejected the European code of conduct for space.

“Too restrictive,” Ellen Tauscher, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said of the 12-page document that seeks to promote the peaceful, safe and “transparent” use of outer space. Tauscher, speaking to a gathering of Washington, D.C.-based defense reporters on Jan. 12, let slip at the end of her talk that the State Department had rejected the document as it was written. While answering an unrelated question, she mentioned that, “we’re not going to be joining with the Europeans on their [space] treaty.” She did not share any further details as to what parts of the code were “too restrictive.”

Though I applaud the decision of the Obama administration to say no now, the article notes that Tauscher later admitted that the administration is still willing to negotiate this thing.

Why has Western civilization decided in recent decades that the solution to all problems is to lay down restrictions on what people can do? This authoritarianism goes against every ideal and principle that made our culture a success. Worse, it never works. Like gun control, the only people the rules harm are those who follow the rules.

ISS and Chinese satellite debris

Russian mission control has indicated that the debris left over from destruction of a Chinese satellite in 2007 poses a “danger” to the International Space Station. Key quote from a Russian official:

“If the calculations show that the debris is approaching the station at an unacceptably close range, the six astronauts will receive the order to take shelter in the two Russian Soyuz spacecraft which are docked with the ISS.”

Boulder tracks on Mars

Here’s a nice picture from the HiRISE camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, released July 7, showing the boulder tracks left by rocks bouncing down the escarpment of Kasei Valles in the low gravity of Mars. Fun quote:

Some of these blocks traveled downhill several hundred meters (yards) as they rolled and bounced, leaving behind a trail of indentations or poke marks in the surface’s fine-grained, light-toned soils. The raised borders in some of these poke marks indicate they are relatively recent features, unaffected by wind erosion, or that this soil has cohesive properties, such as if it was cemented.

Boulder tracks on Mars