Friday, March 23, 2007

Space Access ‘07 - Late Friday morning - DoD and ITAR

Charles Miller spoke again. He talked about a report for the Department of Defense. He talked about asymmetric attacks on orbital assets. The DoD wants commmerical transportation to support our defense.

The United States is more vulnerable than other nations to destruction of orbital assets. Over the last couple decades the United States has put so much into space, that if we lost our satellites we would be blind, deaf and dump. Other countries have less infrastructure in space.

Charles is proposing spaceplanes which would allow quick restocking if some of the satellites were destroyed. He wants to avoid a space Pearl Harbor. He is proposing a Advisory Council on Entrepreneurial Space Access, or ACESA.

Kerry Scarlott talked about ITAR: International Traffic Arms Regulations. He acknowledge that it can be a heavy burden. He wanted to focus on how to deal with it, and not talk about how to change it. He says that ITAR is a narrow portal, not a wall.

He said if you deal with foreign companies you need to fill out certain forms: MLA or TAA. He said that in general it is not a problem to get approval. But don’t try it with China, the United States currently has an embargo against them. He said there may be some changes in the future, but doesn’t expect any significant changes in the next couple years.

They has a panel on ITAR.

Randall Clague said that ITAR is a pain. He said that if the ITAR approach was taking with planes that they would declare engines as a possible arms.

Rand Simberg said that there are some in the industry who like ITAR. Some of the big companies see ITAR as a barrier to business for small business. He doesn’t believe we’ll get rid of ITAR, but that we might have a chance to reform it. One of the things we might be able to do is to fix the list. It would be nice to sunset some items or at least force review of items.

Jim Muncy said he was there when Congress mess this up. He told about an incident when we needed to get an tube to a Russian space ship up to the Space Station. They did an end run by having a woman take it to Russia and describe it as a personal hygiene item. Jim said ITAR is wrong and needs to be undone. Many have acknowledged that ITAR is undercutting security. Jim doesn’t think it will be easy with the current political environment in Washington DC.

Question and Answers

1) Are there people who really believe in ITAR or it just inertia?
Mostly just inertia and lack of understanding. Randall said that Washington is mostly run by lawyers, not entrepreneurs. They don’t understand business. We have a global economy; ITAR makes it hard to use people or technology from other countries. It will be hard to get the Republicans and Democrats to work together.

I missed a few questions

2) Do you have to register if you are just doing R&D?
It depends.

3) Question about technology being in the public domain
Just having technology available in Europe is not enough. Technology could be in the public domain and still the item might be subject to ITAR.

4) If you are prototyping an item in your garage and a friend from Canada comes over, do I have to deal with ITAR?

5) Question about launching off US soil in a particular situation.
Yes have to deal with ITAR. There is advance technology in the rocket ship.

6) So I have to check with everyone who comes to my business?
Yes, you have to make sure that they are United States citizens.

Someone said it is important not to admit that you might have a foreign customer until you register with ITAR.

Jim said that have to deal with ITAR almost any time you launch something into space. Pressure suits are controlled because they were originally developed for high altitude bomber sixty years ago. Because pressure suits are on munitions lists you have to be careful how you explain pressure suits to a foreign customer. Kerry says so much of this is irrational. There was general agreement in the audience that ITAR is a pain and overreaches. Anything in a satellite is labeled munitions.

7) If I want to send something to a US machine shop do I have to check?
Yes, best to mark it as ITAR controlled and to check with the machine shop. The obligation is on you. You have to do due diligence.

8) Someone in the audience made the point that the State Department’s biggest hammer is they can slow you down.
Yes, they can also fine you, and put you in jail.

9) What can other government agencies do to help this?
Tell the State Department that ITAR is rising your costs.

Someone in the audience said it would be nice if other government agencies didn’t ask for special exception, but to say there is a problem.

10) What can we do?
We need to get more involved.

11) In a conflict between the Transportation department and the State Department, who wins?
The State Department

First: Introduction
Overview: the agenda
Previous: Rocketplane Kistler, Andrews Space, Space Portal
Next: FAA, legal issues and insurance


Technorati tags:


Gord said...

Some clarification for item # 6 - Anyone from any country can visit your business - in a conference room.

If you are going to show them items or technology controlled by ITAR you must verity that they are "US Persons". That includes US citizens and "green card" holders. If they are not "US persons", then you must get permissiion from the State Department before explsing them to controlled goods & technology.

Also, be aware the the Department of Commerce has its own controlled list - the "Commerce Control List" that is in addition to the ITAR.

Henry Cate said...

Thanks for the clarification.