Last week NASA reported that it awarded contracts to three companies to build spacecraft capable of landing  humans on the moon—Blue Origin (owned by Jeff Bezos); Dynetics (a Leidos subsidiary); and SpaceX (owned by Elon Musk).  The current plan is purportedly to, in 2024, fly astronauts to the Orion spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin, to lunar orbit, where it would meet up and dock with the lander, which would take them to the moon’s surface.  But Congress has yet to sign off.

Meanwhile, SpaceX is also purportedly on target to also take astronauts to the International Space System next month, on May 27, 2020, on the Demo-2 test flight.  If it goes, this will be the first orbital human spaceflight to launch from American soil since NASA’s space shuttle fleet retired in 2011.  Although, SpaceX did fly an uncrewed mission, Demo-1, to the ISS last March.

Back here on Earth, us at Rothwell Figg are wondering – what about the data that is generated and processed in outer space?  My partner, Marty Zoltick, and I, wrote a chapter on this in the International Comparative Legal Guide (ICLG’s) Data Protection 2019 publication, which you are read here.  Our conclusion was that the existing legal frameworks (including privacy laws and outer space treaties) do not sufficiently address which laws apply to personal data in airspace and outer space, and as such, a new international treaty or set of rules and/or regulatory standards is needed to fill this gap. 

We are continuing to assess this exciting issue which continues to develop.