Welcome to the first edition of EVA Interviews: The Business of the new Space Age!
I’m delighted to welcome our first guest, James E. Dunstan, partner and lawyer with Garvey, Schubert and Barer in Washington D.C. who focuses on Space, business and the technologies of theÂ future.
Great businesses start with ideas, especially ideas that can solve problems for potential customers. They next build the structure necessaryÂ to take those ideas from concept to reality and then (hopefully) on toÂ prosperous endeavour.Â The first outside professional advisor thatÂ a new business hires, to formally get the business off the ground, is a lawyer. It is therefore fitting that this is where we will start. Jim Dunstan has been actively involved in the formation of many new Space ventures as well as those involving other exciting new technologies.
EVA:Â Â Â Jim, thank you very much for joining us at EVA Interviews and Out of the Cradle! Welcome! I look very forward to our conversation!
Since these interviews are about Space as well as the economic aspects of our exodus Out of the Cradle, I like to start by asking you about Space. I know you do have a personal interest in Space. Can you tell us how your interest started and how it has evolved?
Jim Dunstan:Â Â Â Â As many “Orphans of Apollo”, I grew up in the glory days of space.Â My favorite Christmas gift was the steel working model of the Gemini recovery helicopter, and I pined to order my own capsule off the back of Bazooka bubblegum wrappers.Â (I’m also STILL waiting for ACME catalog to arrive so I can order the Earthquake pills, but that’s a whole different story.)Â My older brother decided at an early age to become an Air Force pilot, so my house was filled with science and math books, posters, and anything he could get his hands on.Â Helps that mom was a teacher.Â
I, on the other hand, fell in love with the law early (4th grade), and knew I wanted to do that, notwithstanding math and science SAT scores that should have sent me to Caltech or MIT.Â I spent two years at Arizona State University, and after winning a national Truman Scholarship, transferred toÂ Claremont McKenna College, where I graduated in 1980 with a degree in Political Science, but with a very heavy dose of computational economics.Â It was then on to Georgetown University Law Center, and what I thought would be a fast track to Wall Street.Â A funny thing happened along the way.Â I got bored out of my mind.Â So I did two things to keep my sanity:Â 1)Â decided I needed to find an area of the law that really fascinated me; and 2) began writing computer games with a fellow student (who, by the way, is now one of the most famous producers of massively multiplayer online games and my longest and dearest client).Â Georgetown offered a class in, of all things, Space Law, and I took it.Â No, more like I inhaled it.Â At the urging of the professor, I co-founded the Georgetown Space Law Group, and we embarked on writing an article on the geostationary (Clark) orbit and legal issues surrounding its use in light of the then-upcoming World Administrative Radio Council (WARC)-83.Â We later published that article in the Case Western Law Review.
So in 1983 I graduated from Georgetown with an expertise in outer space and computer game law.Â Not particularly marketable skills at that time.Â Plus, my timing was impeccable, graduating just a few weeksÂ after President Reagan announced the largest, and longest lasting freeze on Federal government hiring in history.Â Serendipity prevailed, however, and I ended up working for a small boutique communications firm, Haley Bader & Potts (HBP).Â The “Haley” was Andrew G. Haley, the world’s first space lawyer, and author of the first book in the field:Â Space law and governmentÂ (1963).Â Haley had long-since died, but Mike Bader and Bill Potts still ran the firm, and they were the actual authors of the book (while Haley was running around the Eastern Block as head of the International Astronautics Federation carrying satchels full of CIA money, but that’s also another story).Â HBP encouraged my excesses and allowed me to develop a practice in Space Law.Â
After drinking the NASA Kool-Aid in the early 1980’s about how the shuttle would become a commercial vehicle (“the DC-3 of space”), I saw very early that that wasn’t going to happen based onÂ actual launch rates.Â I gravitated toward groups that were more radical in their space frontier thinking, and decided not to base a practice on a NASA/government contracting model.Â I probably left millions in legal fees on the table, but at least I could sleep at night.Â Instead, I made a biennial pilgrimage to Princeton and the Space Studies Institute conferences (STILL the finest conference on space held, EVERYONE should have the full collection of papers presented between 1981 and 2001 close at hand).Â And that’s where I met the true space mafia, or as we liked to call ourselves, “the space mammals,” working deftly to avoid being stomped out by the NASA dinosaur.
Amazingly, the dinosaur still survives, but we’ve seen a monumental shift in space development.Â In the 1990s and early part of the 21st Century, talking to an investor, or a potential sponsor,Â about a private space venture got you giggles or blank stares.Â At best, they would call up a friend of a friend at NASA (since, after all NASA = space), who would respond that if the project was worthwhile, NASA would soon be doing it, so no reason for a private company to be seeking private investment/sponsorship.Â But slowly that has changed.Â Dennis Tito, commercials on ISS, leasing the Mir, all projects I had a hand in (mostly way behind the scenes), have begun to break the NASA stranglehold on space, and SpaceShipOne’s success has sparked new interest, and more importantly, PRIVATE INVESTMENT in space projects beyond communications satellites.
I look forward with eager anticipation to the next few years, and what should really be a renaissance of space activity.Â Remember the SSI collections I mentioned above?Â Really.Â Seek them out and read them.Â Most of the concepts that are gaining traction now had their genesis there, from some of the brightest minds on the planet.Â Ad Astra!Â Ad Caelum!Â (To the Stars!Â To the Heavens!).
EVA:Â Â Â Â Your lawÂ practice started at HBP and now you are with Garvey Schubert Barer. Has the focus of your practice changed? I notice they don’t show Space Law as an area of expertise on their website. What is your focus today?Â
Jim Dunstan:Â Â Â Â Haley Bader & Potts merged into Garvey Schubert BarerÂ in 2000.Â We all came over and became part of a much larger firm. I don’t list Space Law as a subject area of practice because the firm’s website only lists the “official” firmÂ practice areas.Â Since I’m the only one in my firm that practices Space Law, they weren’t going to set up a subject area just for me.Â Don’t get me wrong, Garvey has been very supportive of my practice, including sponsoring receptions at Space Frontier Foundation conferences and buying tables at banquets.Â I’m grateful that theyÂ “humor” me in my passion, even if it’s way out of the norm for most law firms. GSB recognizes thatÂ while Space law may beÂ an obscure specialty at the moment, in the future itÂ could grow into a lucrative practice, like so many other areas before it.Â The focus of my practice really hasn’t changed that much over the past 25 years.Â I pretty much tell people that I practice “future law,” because I’ve always focused on new technologies and new areas of the law.Â When I started practicingÂ in 1983, I spent the first few years working on cellular telephone cases before the FCC.Â I was on the team that won the first FCC license on behalf of our client MCI.Â MCI offered, in 1984, the first commercialÂ “electronic mail” system.Â As the only lawyer in the office who had a computer on his desk (an Amiga 1000 so I could program games in my spare time), my senior partner asked me to come up with the first End User License Agreement (EULAs), because he understood that there needed to be rules as to the system’s use.Â I still do EULAs today, now just for very sophisticated virtual worlds and Massively Multiplayer Online Games.Â I had the true fathers of the Internet as clients (that would be Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf, NOT Al Gore), and so had access to parts of the Internet long before they became commercially available (or popular).Â I knew Archie and Veronica well (there I go dating myself).Â
My focus has always been to try and interface between my technology clients and the rest of the world, be it regulatory authorities, investors, or customers.Â Helping clients take their ideas and craft them in a way that others (with money) can understand, that’s what I find exciting about coming into the office each day.Â
EVA:Â Â Â Â Future Law – I like that description! Very appropriate! What an exciting career you have had so far to be in at the beginning of so many new sectors!! Do you have relationships with Angel investors or Venture Capital firmsÂ who want you to keep them aware of interesting company creations -Â with new Space or other types of technology?
(Archie and Veronica?)Â
Jim Dunstan:Â Â Â Â (Archie and Veronica were programs used in the pre-Web days of the Internet.Â They were file searching programsÂ that searched the InternetÂ for files based on name or content.Â Archie was specifically designed to search FTP sites, Veronica, which stood for . . . no kidding . . . Very Easy Rodent-Oriented Net-wide Index of Computerized Archives.)Â Think of them as the grandparents of Google.)
Here’s the funny thing about Angels:Â The very best ones stay way below the radar, otherwise they’re swamped with more requests for funding than they can possibly wade through.Â And the space community is really hard on Angels, I’ve found.Â Once someone finds an Angel, and the Angel’s identity gets out, it’s like chum to the sharks.Â I’ve talked to several Angels over the years who stopped associating with the space community because they felt abusedÂ by the communityÂ and their demands for funding based on (largely) amateurish business plans.Â There are several Angel Funds of which I’m aware, Space Angels Network being the newest, where the Angels are being protected by intermediaries.Â I’ve got contacts and relations with a couple VC groups, but getting VC funding into space is very difficult, as you well know.
Some of that MAY be changing with the economy, however.Â In discussions with several of my contacts, they are saying that there is plenty of investment money available.Â A lot of the smart money got out of stocks early, and had to land somewhere (other than in someone’s mattress).Â So, several VC funds have cropped up over the last few months.Â The problem is that with virtually no credit available for mergers and rollups, and IPOs at a dead stop, no one can come up with investment scenarios that have realistic exit strategies in the 18 month to 3 year timeframe that investors have become accustomed to.Â So everyone is sitting on the money right now.Â That is actually a very good thing for NewSpace, because the long timeframes for development and liquidity have always been the most difficult thing for space companies to overcome.Â But if investment horizons are now stretching to 3-5 years for exit for all technology sectors, then NewSpace has a chance to compete for that money, if there is enough upside potential for investors.Â
EVA:Â Â Â Â IÂ see potential opportunity in this economic environment as well. Past downturns have involved significant new company creation. It wonâ€™t be easy but then starting a successful business rarely is. What does a budding Space entrepreneur need to be aware of before they start their companies and how might that differ from a non-Space entrepreneur?Â
Jim Dunstan:Â Â Â Â Wow.Â I could write a book on that subject.Â But I’ll try to keep it significantly shorter than that.Â I think the key thingÂ budding space entrepreneurs need to do is surround themselves with non-space people.Â Notwithstanding the admonition that investors are looking for strong teams, I can’t tell you how many startups I’ve seen that are made upÂ exclusively of space people.Â This is very bad for a couple of reasons.Â First, space people tend to defer to the engineers, so a startup with all space folksÂ is going to be engineering driven, not market or product driven.Â I used to see this in the early days of the software industry as well, so many great projects never hit the market because the software engineers were calling the shots, and couldn’t stop writing code long enough to ask the tough questions (like, “will adding another feature sell that many more units to justify the delay?”).Â Space people tend to be the same way; they worship the technology they create moreÂ than trying to figure out how to sell themselves and their products.Â Second, in teams of all space people, invariably people get slotted into incorrect roles.Â Engineers end up as VP of sales, and . . . gasp . . . in charge of regulatory and legal issues.Â I have an axiomÂ I often say after some space person bends my ear for an hour on legal issues:Â I’ve never met an aerospace engineer who does not believe in his or her heart of hearts, that they would have been number one in their law school class, if they had chosen that as a career.Â Heck, after mastering rocket science, all the other issues areÂ easy, right?Â Wrong.Â The training engineers get is not easily adaptable to law, economics or marketing.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen business plan presentations where an engineer gets up and shows their pro forma and just totally botches it because he/she doesn’t know what they’re talking about.Â My favorite was a business plan presented at one of the space investment roundtables, where the CEO showed the pro forma and declared that they’d be profitable by the end of year two because the pro forma showed cash in the bank at the end of the second year.Â Of course if you actually looked at the pro forma, there was cash there because they were assuming three distinct rounds of investment within two years, and they hadn’t burned through all the cash by the end of year two.Â I looked around to the audience, and could pretty quickly identify theÂ dozen people in the room who could read a pro forma, because they were shaking their heads in amazement.Â Unfortunately, they were the VCs in the crowd, and needless to say, THAT business plan never got funded.
So my word to the wise is – surround yourself with people who hate space, but know how to make money.Â They’ll either learn to love space, or you’ll learn how to make money, or a little of both.
EVA:Â Â Â Â Speaking of Business Plansâ€¦.Â A good plan should always include discussion of political, legal and regulatory risks as well as many other factors. How do these risks differ in the Space industry from other industries? What specific risks are insufficiently considered?Â
Jim Dunstan:Â Â Â Â Tom Rogers, one of the true “godfathers” of NewSpace, once gave me the greatest piece of advice I ever heard when it comes to doing anything entrepreneurial in space:Â “Things always take longer and cost moreÂ than you’ll ever imagine.Â After all, it actually IS rocket science.”Â When I look at a business plan, I look at two things.Â First, not only does the business case “close,” but does it close with a comfortable margin?Â Too many times I’ve seen business plans with pro formas that show a high cash burn rate that gets just down to a few cents above zero, when WHAM, the miracle happens and new investment, or contracts, or something shows up in the business plan.Â What happens if it DOES take longer and cost more to get your space business going?Â Does the business crater if that government contract you were counting on gets delayedÂ three months, six months, or never materializes?Â
The second thing I look for is whether there is a realistic budget for non-engineering expenses.Â I’m probably beating a dead horse by now, based on my prior answers, but if a business plan doesn’t have expense items for legal, accounting, and marketing, then I know right away that this brilliant group of engineers is either going to try and do all that stuff themselves, ignore it, or worse, they have somebody’s brother’s second-cousin who is a CPA who will help them for a small equity stake.Â
The other thing that ties back into my first point is the vagaries ofÂ government contracting.Â To say the least, NASA is NOT a reliable customer.Â Most of that is not NASA’s fault.Â The government generally is not a particularly good customer for anything but ordinary goods and services.Â If I’m looking to start up a “space” business running the cafeteria for a NASA center, I can pretty well figure that if I get the contract, I’ll get paid.Â But if I’m looking to get NASA to fund a new space vehicle, or even a widget that goes into that new vehicle or satellite, then I run substantial risk that somewhere along the way, the project/mission/whatever you want to call it will get delayed, or eliminated.Â This is especially true in almost every scenario where a startup is looking for multi-year funding from the government.Â Even if you sign that contract, and even if you get paid for year one, the government in most instances can’t fully commit to years two through X, because each year Congress has to approve a new budget for them.Â It’s just the nature of the beast.
The other risk startups have to worry about is losing IP rights, or at least losing their IP advantage to the government, which may demand a license to use the underlying technology at no future cost in exchange for funding the development of the technology.Â If the business involves substantial IP, and the follow-on commercialization of the product has as its target buyer the government, you might have just slit your own throat by taking the money in the first place.Â Yet most startups are in such need of cash that they won’t spend the time or effort to bargain hard with the government to retain as much of their IP as they can.Â Many an innovative piece of IP has slipped into the government’s hands (or worse, was shunted off to another contractor)Â because an entrepreneur failed to negotiate hard for retention of IP rights.
EVA:Â Â Â Â Since I have been involved with the Space community, I have noticed quite a difference between the Space lawyers I have met. Some are IP (Intellectual Property) specialists, a veryÂ important area for Space companies toÂ ensure they haveÂ considered, as you just pointed out. Others focus on theory, regulatory issues, treaties or policy and still others on contracts. These differences seem more pronounced in the Space industry than say in the software industry and must be rather confusing for those looking to find a Space lawyer. How would you explain the differences?Â
Jim Dunstan:Â Â Â Â I think there is a fundamental difference between being “a space lawyer,” and providing legal services to the space community.Â Doesn’t mean you can’t be both, but they have slightly different functions.Â To provide legal services to the space community, you need a broad base knowledge in a lot of areas, IP (as you mentioned), corporate formation, government contracting, federal regulatory (e.g. FCC, ITAR), and (hopefully) mergers and acquisition.Â None of these areas is truly “space law.”Â Space companies, after all, ARE companies, and so need good business lawyers.Â
“Space lawyers,” however, are a rare and special breed.Â :)Â I break them down into three types, which you have done a bit in asking your question.Â First, there are the government lawyers and academicians who deal either nationally or internationally in space law issues.Â Cogitating on where space begins, arguing over the nuances in international treaties, and working on intergovernmentalÂ agreements (IGOs) for things like the international space station.Â These folks need to be fully steeped in space law tradition, which has its own distinct hierarchy of treaties, customary international law, and national laws and regulations.Â Second are the government contractor space lawyers, whoÂ adviseÂ (mainly) larger aerospace companies in their dealings with the government (NASA, DoD, etc.).Â They still should understand the unique sphere of space law, but also spend most of their waking (and probably some of their sleeping) hours neck deep in the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FARs) and their progeny.Â Finally, there are the gunslingers out there who represent the NewSpace movement.Â That’s where youÂ mainly need to be a business lawyer, but at the same time need toÂ be able to steer your client away from ideas that are diametrically opposed to fundamental space law (like claiming you ownÂ an asteroid because you listed it in a database somewhere).Â I hope I fall into that last category, able to cite chapter and verse on the Outer Space Treaty, while at the same time telling a client they’d be crazy to try a reverse merger into a public shell in the current market.Â
The reason this looks differentÂ from the software industry (where I spend about a third of my legal life), is because with software, you don’t have these overarching set of international treaties that heavily impact what you can and can’t do.Â Yes, there are copyright treaties that impact software, but the fundamental principles of space law place the control of individuals into the hands of their own governments, and hold those governments strictly liable for any damage done by individuals.Â By way of example:Â Nation states are held strictly liable for injuries caused by launches — if a U.S. rocket turns sideways and takes out a village on some Caribbean island, the U.S. government is responsible for compensating those injured.Â In contrast, if I as a U.S. citizen install software to warn the next island over of impending hurricanes, and the software fails miserablyÂ and that the island is wiped out with no warning, the survivors can only come after ME, not the U.S. government for those damages.Â Because of this, the U.S. government isn’t in the business of making sure that hurricane warning software works, but it IS in the business of making sure that rockets launched from its soil (or by its citizens) are rigorously licensed.Â To useÂ John Carmack as a bad and overly simplistic example (sorry John), the government doesn’t really care if people die playing his computer game Doom (Id Software), but really cares if people are killed on or by one of his rockets (Armadillo Aerospace). It’s because of who ultimately is on the hook for the liability from accidents.
EVA: Â Â Â While your day-to-day activities put you in the Gunslinger category rather than primarily government contracting or academia, I know you follow all Space law issues very closely. What, in your opinion, are the most controversial legal issues in the Space arena today? Are there changes that you foresee in Space Law over the next 10 years? (30 years?) What changes do you believe need to occur? Does current law facilitate or discourage new Space business formation?Â
Jim Dunstan:Â Â Â In terms of pure space law, I see two sets of issues as dominating the scene.Â The first set involves the regulations necessary to do point-to-point (P2P) suborbital flights.Â I work with a group that is developing a P2P prize, and the more we looked at it, the more the regulatory issues were in many ways the “long pole in the tent.”Â It’s one thing to figure out how to go straight up and straight down in a suborbital trajectory.Â It’s quite another to take off from one point, exit the atmosphere, reenter, and come down somewhere else.Â Especially if that somewhere else is in some other country.Â As we looked at it, all sorts of really tough legal issues began to emerge, and to get that done may involve a massive game of regulatory “whack-a-mole” to knock down one issue and have another pop up.Â For example, let’s say that you want to fly a suborbital ballistic trajectory from the East coast of the U.S. to France.Â First, is any member of the EU going to be happy about something that looks on aÂ radar scan to be a missile hurdling at them?Â Second, while Sputnik may have established the customary international law principle of freedom of overflight in space, what happens if that P2P trajectory has you reentering airspace (albeit very high up), over another country (say Spain or Portugal)?Â You’re going to have to get their approval for that portion of the flight as well.Â Third (and by no means last), you’re going to have to somehow integrate the reentry with the air traffic control system in the foreign country.Â Although I know that the U.S. FAA is working to try and integrate U.S. suborbital flights into the “NextGen” air traffic control system, other countries may take much longer to figure out how to do that.
While this may seem like WAY in the future, the fact is that there are people seriously looking at this issue, especially for U.S. to Orient traffic.Â My fear is that the technology may be in place before the regulatory regime can be established.Â Changing laws and regulations can take a LONG time.
The second issue that we’ve got to get a handle on is property rights.Â I am not one of those who thinks we can thumb our collective noses at the Outer Space Treaty (OST) and declare that individuals can own celestial bodies, so we have to come up with some way of reconciling the prohibition of private property rights in the OST, and private enterprise’s need for ways of capitalizing on their efforts in outer space.Â We’ve managed to do that with telecommunications satellites and geostationary (Clark) orbital slots that, while not private property,Â are the functional equivalent thereof.Â We need to establish parallel precedent for the acquisition ofÂ either property or quasi-property rights in the celestial bodies to allow us to go out there,Â mine the Moon and the asteroids, and bring those benefits back to Earth.Â I’m currently working on an exciting project intended to push the legal envelope in that regard.Â Hopefully I’ll be able to provide more detail in the nextÂ few months with anÂ update to EVA Interviews.
EVA:Â Â Â Â Thanks Jim, these are indeed issues that need to be worked on now rather than waiting until the technology is commercially available. I look forward to that update!
Another of your areas of expertise is cyberspace â€“ online and video gaming,Â virtual worlds andÂ computerÂ – law.Â You recently did anÂ interview on Digin radio and mentioned thatÂ some of theseÂ virtual worlds effectively have their own constitutions. What could a future settlement â€“ like a lunarÂ base or space city â€“ learn from these virtual worlds?Â Are there any innovative business practices being developed there that you feel could have applicationsÂ in “real life”?
Jim Dunstan:Â Â Â Â It is a weird existence having one foot in outer space and one foot in cyberspace — feels like I’m doing the splits sometimes.Â But there is a LOT we can learn from virtual worlds that should inform our decisions in space colonization.Â First and foremost, there is no such thing as Utopia.Â Bad people in real life are bad people in cyberspace, and will probably be bad people in outer space.Â Cyberspace may be worse, because of the level of anonymity an avatar affords,Â I’ve been involved in real world abductions that started in a virtual world, hacking, theft, blackmailing, you name it, on behalf of my virtual world clients.Â Hopefully outer space will be a little better, because in the close confines of a space community, it is harder to do bad things “on the sly.”Â But in any environment where certain resources are scarce, there will always be the temptation to horde/steal/exploit those resources for personal gain.Â
I’ve actually written several articles about this over the years.Â The first took a look at the U.S. Bill of Rights to see how it would hold up on a trip to the Moon.Â Pretty scary actually.Â Certain rights guaranteed in the United States would clearly have to be limited on the Moon.Â Â Are you going to allow someone to burn a flag in a closed loop life support system and claim it is protected political speech?Â Are you going to allow the possession of individual firearms on a lunar colony where one shot from a Plaxico Burress could cause an explosive decompression?Â The second article I did looked at the type of society that might evolve in space colonies.Â I looked at a lot of models, everything from “company towns” to “hippie communes.”Â I can’t say I came up with the “perfect” political and social system for space, but it became VERY clear in my historical research that every community that has ever been established on any frontier has had to deal with the “free rider” problem of some people not working as hard as others, yet reaping the same rewards.Â In the same way that free riders doomed communism (in its truest sense), and the Jamestown settlement in 1607, it will doom any space colony that doesn’t enter into a social compact requiring everyone to work their share.Â Â We see this in cyber-communities all the time, where people try and game the system through “cheats” and “hacks” to avoid doing things they don’t want to do, or, more dangerously, to reap the benefits of the hard work of others.Â This is countered by two business practices, the construction of very tight End User License Agreements (EULAs) with strong self-help provisions for the virtual world provider, AND the conscious development of a cohesive community willing to undertake some of the policing effort.Â I litigated the first “virtual property” case back in 2003, where “gold farmers” invaded one of my client’s massively multiplayer online games and then started selling gold and virtual items on eBay.Â They were pulling down some $60,000 a month from those sales.Â When we shut the eBay auctions down, they tried suing us, and we went after them with gusto.Â At the same time, the online community was so outraged with their brazen tactics, that the community shunned both them, AND anyone who was discovered to have boughtÂ these black market virtual goods.Â The end result — they were shut down and several of them fled the United States for reasons I can’t disclose.Â Â
Laws and social norms.Â That’s what has kept us from eating each other for 10,000 years, and it is only through the combination of both that we can hope to survive as a species off-planet.
EVA:Â Â Â Â It will be fascinating to see what new laws and social norms do develop eventually in Space.Â I’ll look forward to reading those articles for ideas! Another source of ideas is always speculative fiction. Here on OotC, Ken Murphy hasÂ built and showcases his Lunar Library. We are very interested in books, not only for their entertainment value but alsoÂ for the knowledge, motivationÂ and inspiration they can provide. Are there any books that have had a strong influence on your life and where you are today?
Jim Dunstan:Â Â Â Â Â Â Like many “Orphans of Apollo” I was raised on classic Science Fiction, Asimov, Heinlein.Â I especially like some of the short stories Asimov wrote in the 1950s, and one in particular The Feeling of Power – in the book Robot Dreams (Remembering Tomorrow)Â where society had lost the ability to do basic math because they relied so much on computers.Â It always drove me to remember the fundamentals of everything, engineering, economics, even law.Â If you lose the fundamentals, you lose the ability to understand the “higher order” things you do.Â As a young lawyer joining Haley Bader & Potts, I was given access to all the writings of Andrew G. Haley.Â The incredible things he wrote about in the 1940s and 1950s about space and space law captivated me.Â He even had a chapter in his seminal work Space Law and Government about “metalaw” — the law of how we should interact with aliens.Â REALLY!Â And most of this done before we’d even launched anything into space.
EVA:Â Â Â Â Jim,Â thank you so much for all your interesting and thought provoking comments so far! One last question for you: Letâ€™s imagine that we are revisiting this conversationÂ we had here today in cyberspace, in the future, as we floatÂ in Space (see FAQs)Â for real:Â Â What additional actions would you personally like to have taken between now and then to help make our exodus Out of the Cradle a reality?
Jim Dunstan:Â Â Â Â Now that’s a pretty heavy question!Â I think looking back from the future (is that a future past-pluperfect tense?), I would say that the one thing I would have done differently would have been to be more caringly honest with myself and my clients when projects were just too far away from making it.Â There are times when you can push the rock up the hill and it will stay, and times when it will always roll back down and crush you.Â Too many times I’ve been part of groups that pushed so dang hard on a rock that, at least at that time, was destined to roll back and take some casualties with it.Â But, like so many, I’ve been caught up in the excitement, dreamt the dream, and even sipped the Kool-Aid, only to sweat blood and then watch the rock roll back down the hill.Â But Tom Rogers, who I quoted above, had a great line (andÂ I paraphrase), “Humans can only escape the prison of Earth if there are enough people willing to throw themselves onto the barbed wire to prepare the way for others to finally make it over the fence.” I’m saddened to have seen so many of my friends and colleagues sacrificed on that barbed wire, but in the end, their sacrifice will have been worth it.
Thank you Jim for all the time and effort you have put into this interview!! I have really enjoyed your comments and hope that our readers will too! Once you are further along on those projects you mentioned, let’s chat again for an update!
I would especially like to thank Jim for being one of the first people to agree to participate in EVA Interviews – sight unseen – when it was only a concept and I had no prototypeÂ to show him. You’re a brave man!
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All the best, Â Â Â Â Â EVA
Disclaimer: Opinions expressedÂ are those of the author and her guest andÂ may not reflect those ofÂ Out of the Cradle; Garvey Schubert and Barer; or BMO Nesbitt Burns.Â Copyright belongs to Eva-Jane Lark, please email her at evainterviews (at) gmail (dot) com for permission to use these interviews.Â
EVA Updates: I am sad to report that just days after this interview was published, Tom Rogers, who Jim mentions several times, has died. Tributes and testimonialsÂ are pouring in to NASA Watch.Â He sounds like a man thatÂ I would have loved to have met.Â 17Feb2009