Time for a little space business by a citizen scientist-- an ordinary scienc-y person who just happens to be building a personal satellite in his basement. I'm at the Space Weather Enterprise Forum today, where scientists and policy makers try to tackle space weather awareness from a real world 'money&lives' stance. On Friday I'll write it up in my main column, but for now I'm going to connect these issues with some 'Project Calliope' concerns.
When launching a personal satellite, who will be at fault if there is trouble with the satellite?
This is not a new issue, but it is a more pointed issue for small-stakes players like us. If the government or military launches a satellite, they can bicker internally about who is in charge, but overall it's going to be a government matter. For government-contractor interactions, there are Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) drafted to cover potential issues. Between two large corporations, lawyers can slug it out.
This is what I call a 'frontier question'. It's only a contentious point when individuals, not government or 'East India Company'-type large corporations, start moving into a new area.
The crux of the issue is who is the end user of the satellite-- the builder as the owner of the satellite on-orbit, or InterOrbital Systems as the launcher ('entity carrying (shipping) the the satellite out of the US to IOS' Tongan-based, US-owned launch services division')?
Last year I reported how it ends up cheaper to not insure most satellites against loss, and just accept some losses will occur. This is because satellite insurance is really expensive. Put another way, it's cheaper to buy X satellites and let one fail, than to buy and insure X+1 satellites.
But insuring against potential damages from a situation beyond your control, that involves your satellite? If the risk is low but the cost to insure against that risk is high, then a company can essential either gamble its existence on success, or pay for expensive insurance to cover them. Either option can render 'low budget space flight' out of the game before it begins.
The risk of a picosatellite like ours suffering a failure that impacts someone else? Extremely low. But this is American, and someone has to assume the risk, and the liability if the extremely remote happens. Is the hobbiest, the citizen scientist, protected by something akin to a Good Samaritan clause?
At least we're willing to guarantee our satellite won't create zombies.
Every Tuesday here at The Satellite Diaries , Fridays at the Daytime Astronomer
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Sexual Fantasies: Threesomes Are Normal, Golden Showers Not So Much
- The Vampire Deer Of Afghanistan
- Cui Bono? B-corporations And The University
- Resveratrol Reverses Benefits Of Exercise - Study
- Okay With Disgusting Images? You Vote This Way 95 Percent Of The Time
- Aging Brains Aren't Necessarily Declining Brains
- Information-Theoretic Security: Creating 21st Century Cryptography Standards
- "Trouble is without citations this article reads like a slew of anecdotes. It begins promisingly..."
- "Do you work for Hank? Or do you just parrot his line of bullshit, and try to legitimize it with..."
- "Yes, that is why I wrote it that way, precisely because they are all watching the thinker...."
- "Sort of. As foreign countries go I have most affection for Great Britain. I have much..."
- Two-faced anti-GMO groups: Block crop and food innovations then claim Big Ag prevents GMO innovations
- Why support erodes for GMO labeling (Hint: It’s not because of spending by Big Ag)
- Genetic “hall of mirrors” with large palindromes, yet smaller: What’s mighty about the mouse
- Gut bacteria an easy scapegoat for disease, but connections hard to prove
- Vermont Rube Goldberg-like GMO labeling law exempts GMO filled natural supplements
- Downside to GMOs: Yields have become so good, they exceed processing capacity
- More penalties on the way for hospitals that treat the poor? New U-M study suggests so
- Cancer cell fingerprints in the blood may speed up childhood cancer diagnosis
- Study of Chile earthquake finds new rock structure that affects earthquake rupture
- Tracking a gigantic sunspot across the Sun
- Massive geographic change may have triggered explosion of animal life