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Old 12-15-2016, 11:15 AM
squidfood squidfood is offline
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Could California launch "its own damn satellite"?

From here, among other places:

Quote:
"If Trump turns off the satellites, California will launch its own damn satellite," [California governor] Brown said.
Let's ignore the immediate politics and reasons, and say that the California legislature has an overwhelming vote to build a satellite, and for bigger political cover got a huge Yes on a "let's build a satellite" ballot initiative for whole-earth monitoring like this. What would be the legal (especially fight with national government?) or other hurdles to doing so - could it be done?

Last edited by squidfood; 12-15-2016 at 11:16 AM.
  #2  
Old 12-15-2016, 11:27 AM
silenus silenus is online now
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It would be easy. All it would take is a launch contract with Musk or the ESA. Private organizations launch their own satellites all the time. I don't know of any law that would prevent a state from doing the same.
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Old 12-15-2016, 11:32 AM
ChockFullOfHeadyGoodness ChockFullOfHeadyGoodness is offline
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I don't know about the legalities, but the logistics are doable.
The big satellite manufacturers are all based in California (Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing's satellite division). California could pay California-based Space X for the launch. We could even launch from Vandenberg.

So from a logistics standpoint, California could do it and probably do it all "in house".

Who is going to make use of the collected data is another issue. Would that be a new California agency? Farm it out to universities?
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Old 12-15-2016, 11:59 AM
Dobbs Dobbs is online now
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Originally Posted by ChockFullOfHeadyGoodness View Post
We could even launch from Vandenberg.
Vandenberg is an Air Force base. You can't just show up with a rocket and say "We'd like to use your launch pad".
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Old 12-15-2016, 12:13 PM
Xema Xema is online now
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Originally Posted by Dobbs View Post
You can't just show up with a rocket and say "We'd like to use your launch pad".
Well (as a nitpick), you probably can - but expect to be told "No way - get lost."

So if "launch its own satellite" is covered by "build it and pay someone to launch it", no problem for CA. But if it includes actually doing the launching, some serious rocket & launch pad development will be needed.
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Old 12-15-2016, 12:58 PM
squidfood squidfood is offline
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Originally Posted by Xema View Post
Well (as a nitpick), you probably can - but expect to be told "No way - get lost."
I've seen Real Genius - and I've got a good fake mustache handy.
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Old 12-15-2016, 12:22 PM
wevets wevets is offline
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Originally Posted by Dobbs View Post
Vandenberg is an Air Force base. You can't just show up with a rocket and say "We'd like to use your launch pad".
Vanderberg Air Force Base launches privately-owned rockets all the time:

Quote:
Originally Posted by space.com
Space activities today are run under the 30thSpace Wing. It not only hosts launches for the Air Force and the Department of Defense, but also NASA and several private industries. Common rockets that launch from the facility include the Atlas V, Delta IV, Delta II, Falcon, Minotaur, Pegasus and Taurus. The facility is also known to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles for testing purposes. SpaceX is also expected to start using the facility for launches in the near future.
http://www.space.com/34147-vandenber...orce-base.html

SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, etc. all use Vandenberg. It's not quite like using the Post Office - I'm sure you have to sign a contract and pay the Air Force for the use of the facility, but it's not like Vandenberg only launches military, U.S. government, or even only U.S.-owned satellites.
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Old 12-15-2016, 01:00 PM
Ravenman Ravenman is offline
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Vandenberg is used for certain satellites, but most US satellites require the use of launches from the Cape in Florida to put the thing in the right orbit.

The substantial majority of satellites launched from the US are non-defense satellites. Pretty much all of the big satellites that are launched are launched from Air Force facilities in California or Florida. The idea that the Air Force would randomly reject a satellite just because the state of California built it is nonsensical.
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Old 12-15-2016, 02:25 PM
SmartAlecCat SmartAlecCat is offline
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Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
Vandenberg is used for certain satellites, but most US satellites require the use of launches from the Cape in Florida to put the thing in the right orbit.
The other way around. For global Earth monitoring, you probably want a sun synchronous low polar orbit. Those usually launch from Vandenberg.
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Old 12-15-2016, 02:17 PM
Dobbs Dobbs is online now
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Originally Posted by wevets View Post
Vanderberg Air Force Base launches privately-owned rockets all the time:
Yah, but Trump is going to be the boss of the Air Force, and if he says no to NASA, he isn't likely to let you use his base.
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Old 12-15-2016, 03:36 PM
wevets wevets is offline
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Originally Posted by Dobbs View Post
Yah, but Trump is going to be the boss of the Air Force, and if he says no to NASA, he isn't likely to let you use his base.
Why would he care what launch contracts the Air Force enters into? Has any President in the past ever stopped the Air Force from signing a launch contract?

And even if he did care, what's to stop California from using Kourou in the French Guiana or Baikonur in Kazakhstan? Neither of those launch facilities are purely government-use only either.

No, Stranger on a Train has it right - a launch facility is the least of the barriers to California launching a satellite - and the real barrier is cost of construction of the satellite and monitoring system. It would make a lot more sense for California to simply partner with the European Space Agency on existing Earth observation missions like Envisat.
  #12  
Old 12-16-2016, 06:56 AM
asterion asterion is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dobbs View Post
Yah, but Trump is going to be the boss of the Air Force, and if he says no to NASA, he isn't likely to let you use his base.
They could launch (if the site was the only consideration) from New Mexico. Spaceport America would love to have the business.
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Old 12-15-2016, 02:22 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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There are two commercial space launch facilities at Vandenberg AFB (formerly known as Sudden Ranch for aerospace history buffs and Arrested Development fans) leased to commerical launch services providers are SLC-4 (with two seperate pads, SLC-4W and SLC-4E) operated by SpaceX for Falcon 9 launches, and SLC-8 operated by Space Services, Incorporated (SSI) which is used for US Air Force Minotaur I and IV/V (Minuteman- and Peacekeeper-based launch vehicles) and provisionally for commercial Athena (Castor 120 and Castor 30) vehicles. SpaceX is unlikely to make their sites available for other launch providers, and SSI would have to make modifications to support anything other than Minotaur and Athena. However, the bigger practical issue is that it is not possible to fly prograde trajectories from Vandenberg without overflying the continental United States, which would not render acceptable Expectation of Casualty (EC) estimations for FAA commerical flight certification. The only permissible launch trajectories from VAFB are polar and retrograde orbits, and even those can be restricted because of overflight situations.

Setting aside trajectory issues, the federal government could deny FAA commerical flight license for a launch from any US facility and there is no legal way for a California entity or government agency to legally launch. The US Air Force, which controls the sites could deny specific launches for any number of manufactured safety or logistical reasons. And the costs of developing, launching, and maintaining a NOAA-grade Earth or space weather observation system that is intended to operate for 10 to 20 years in MEO or upper LEO is in no way comparable to smaller CubeSat launch intended to operate in lower LEO for just a couple of years. A CubeSat or similar smallsat can be developed for a few million dollars and launched in a ride share arrangement or deployed from the International Space Station (ISS) for a modest manifest cost and low intergration costs; a dedicated Earth surveillance satellite intended for high resolution imaging or high fidelity environment measurements starts at a development cost of arond $100M and goes on up depending on capability, and required a dedicated launch vehicle and higher intergration costs including health and status monitoring. And we'd need more than one or even a few satellites to replace the current Earth surveillance capabilities; we'd need at least three separate systems of satellites to maintain the current capabilities for short term weather and long term climate observations, notwithstanding space weather and solar surveillance.

Even if a California-based entity should decide to launch from an international site using a foreign launch provider, there are ITAR and other trade restrictions which the federal government could essentially arbitrarily impose to restrict or delay the launch. So, if the federal government wanted to be obstructive it could be difficult to impossible for the state of California or a California-based commercial entity to effectively launch a satellite, and of course USSPACECOM could refused to provide JSpOC tracking support, which means that the operator would have to provide their own tracking services. Depending on the orbit this could possibly be done via GPS albeit to a reduced degree of precision compared to fixed ground tracking stations.

Governor Brown clearly doesn't understand either the cost or logistical considerations involved in California alone trying to maintain an Earth surveillance system, and it would probably make sense to 'team' with ESA or JAXA to provide both additional funding and technical capability as well as international launch locations; JAXA in particular has a number of excellent sites for launching to a variety of orbital azimuths, as well the technical capabilities for space vehicle development and integration, as well as domestically produced launch vehicles.

Stranger
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Old 12-15-2016, 04:28 PM
Dr. Strangelove Dr. Strangelove is offline
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Originally Posted by Stranger On A Train View Post
Governor Brown clearly doesn't understand either the cost or logistical considerations involved in California alone trying to maintain an Earth surveillance system, and it would probably make sense to 'team' with ESA or JAXA to provide both additional funding and technical capability as well as international launch locations
I think you're reading too much into a one-sentence quip, and that his statement doesn't necessarily exclude a partnership of some kind. The context was just that California can have its own earth science program independent of NASA or the Feds. He didn't say that it would be launched from California soil, or that it would be literally constructed only by Californians, or that it would be solely funded by California.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger On A Train View Post
A CubeSat or similar smallsat can be developed for a few million dollars
Much less than that, as long as it doesn't do much. Including launch, our first cubesat cost <$250k. Launch was about $85k including ISS deployment. Our second one--which didn't make orbit--was just a few tens of $k.
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Old 12-16-2016, 03:51 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is online now
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Originally Posted by Stranger On A Train View Post
..it is not possible to fly prograde trajectories from Vandenberg without overflying the continental United States, which would not render acceptable Expectation of Casualty (EC) estimations for FAA commerical flight certification. The only permissible launch trajectories from VAFB are polar and retrograde orbits, and even those can be restricted because of overflight situations.

Setting aside trajectory issues, the federal government could ...[ital added]
No matter what super-duper techno-business endeavors can be postulated, OP question comes up against its truly limiting answer, of course, and there are non-hypothetical answers currently on the books, despite what any voted-for referendum claims.

As mentioned above, the final hammer comes from federal-state law. I clipped the quote from Stranger where, I believe, the strongest current national legal answer is presented.

A single state acting "for its own purposes" has been slapped down throughout US history. I wonder what Constitutional issues could be brought to bear if it reaches the Supreme Court.
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Old 12-16-2016, 04:40 PM
Martin Hyde Martin Hyde is offline
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Originally Posted by Stranger On A Train View Post
Governor Brown clearly doesn't understand either the cost or logistical considerations involved in California alone trying to maintain an Earth surveillance system, and it would probably make sense to 'team' with ESA or JAXA to provide both additional funding and technical capability as well as international launch locations; JAXA in particular has a number of excellent sites for launching to a variety of orbital azimuths, as well the technical capabilities for space vehicle development and integration, as well as domestically produced launch vehicles.

Stranger
I'm sure you're right--or maybe you just made a bunch of wild assumptions about what Brown's intentions are. He literally just said "we'll launch our own damn satellite." All kinds of non-U.S. government entities put satellites in space all the time.

I don't remember where Brown said "we're going to just launch it from California", I don't remember where he said "we're going to make our own space agency and design one ourselves" or any of that. $100m is peanuts, literally peanuts, for a State the size of California. Considering that Republicans love public-private partnerships, and even under Democrats NASA has been pushing more towards that, I very seriously doubt if a State is willing to give $100m to some entity (maybe even some governmental one) to build out and launch a satellite that the Republicans are going to care. Especially if some private contractor gets to make money on the deal. Republicans would also be loathe to take such a big stand against state autonomy.

For frame of reference cities regularly pay for $400m sports venues, cities. California is a state of 39m people with a $2.5 trillion GDP.

I see no reason to assume Governor Brown is proposing all kinds of crazy nonsense like doing all of it alone, assuming he was serious at all, California would cut a check and it'd be done.
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Old 12-15-2016, 11:42 AM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Practically speaking, a major chunk of existing satellites, including probably most of the American ones, are already "California's own". And heck, even Montana launched their own satellite some years back.
  #18  
Old 12-15-2016, 01:11 PM
dracoi dracoi is offline
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Even if California doesn't launch their own satellites from their own territory, there are other countries out there who can put up satellites for you. Some of those countries might even be happy to split the cost of the satellite and share data so that California only pays a fraction of the cost itself. (In fact... doesn't Trump's plan basically outsource weather satellites to China?)

This satellite controversy seems like a lot of nonsense to me anyway. While some satellites are used specifically for climate science, even a climate change denier wants to know what temperature it is and where the ice bergs are.

It's really just Trump making noises to please his base. He'll ban weather satellites right after he bans Muslims, deports ten million immigrants, fixes health care, waves a magic wand over the tax code and has leprechauns take care of federal spending.
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Old 12-15-2016, 01:21 PM
watchwolf49 watchwolf49 is offline
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California would need FAA approval ... perhaps some Federal licensing issues to use rocket fuel ... all doable and procedures already in place ... and perhaps California could build better satellite than NASA can ...

There's a difference between between not funding research and outlawing said research ... I don't know why Jerry Brown is so upset about this ... I don't see anything here that stops California from proceeding along their own energy plans ...

Last edited by watchwolf49; 12-15-2016 at 01:22 PM.
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Old 12-15-2016, 02:28 PM
nightshadea nightshadea is online now
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I have a feeling that as long as trump is prez in and browns our governor California will ignore the federal government whenever possible do what ever it wants do whether the fed likes it or not ................

Although ca tends to do that no matter whos in the WH
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Old 12-15-2016, 03:27 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Quote:
Quoth Ravenman:

Vandenberg is used for certain satellites, but most US satellites require the use of launches from the Cape in Florida to put the thing in the right orbit.
It's even more other-way-around than that. You don't pick an orbit and then launch from Canaveral because that's what gets you the orbit you want; you pick Canaveral as your launch site and then take the orbit that that gives you. From any given launch site, the cheapest orbit has an inclination equal to the site's latitude (inclinations greater than the latitude are possible but more expensive, and inclinations less than the latitude are so expensive as to be nearly impossible, which is why the ISS is in a high-inclination orbit so that Russia and the US alike can reach it). And the lower that angle is, the cheaper. Meanwhile, you'd also like someplace without inhabited land to the east of it, in case of launch mishaps, and someplace that's easy to get to. Out of all places in the US, then, Florida is about the best available, if you don't care about what orbit you're in, and find Florida's latitude acceptable.

On the other hand, some missions need a polar orbit. It's equally easy to launch into a polar orbit from any point on Earth, so Vandenberg works just fine, and they happen to have a lot of infrastructure there, so that's what they usually use.
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Old 12-15-2016, 03:41 PM
usedtobe usedtobe is offline
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I'd bet that Mr. Musk, if push came to shove, could figure out how to friggin' Launch from SpaceX's Pacific barge and land on the Atlantic barge.

Or ship a rocket down to French Guyana with a note: Please insert attached satellite into the following orbit: ...
(this is where the Ariana family takes flight)

And, when Donald and Vlad have their inevitable fight, I suspect Mr. Putin would pay to fly the rocket to Kazakhstan and fuel it and launch it for free.
  #23  
Old 12-15-2016, 03:49 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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There are even commercially-available submarine launches, from what used to be Russian ballistic missile subs.
  #24  
Old 12-15-2016, 04:51 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
There are even commercially-available submarine launches, from what used to be Russian ballistic missile subs.
The Shtil launcher, which can launch up to 160 kg to 200 km x 79° or 80 kg to 600 km x 79°, albeit with some very high launch dynamic environments that are hard on conventional satellites. It would not be a suitable launcher for a MEO Earth climate surveillance medium satellite.

Stranger
  #25  
Old 12-15-2016, 06:01 PM
kanicbird kanicbird is offline
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Will trump also shut down, or block access to, the ESA satellites?

While the individual sovereign countries make world travel a hassle, it does have some advantages.
  #26  
Old 12-16-2016, 06:08 AM
Isilder Isilder is offline
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More to the point, the federal government doesn't want a state to spend its revenue on wasteful projects and then ask for federal grants to do proper state work.

states therefore tend to focus on the typical state issues on the ground and not go all extraterritorial..

Any one satellite must always be useful to many states and it would not be politic to just go and do something for themselves, they'd have difficulty getting approvals from the feds, and even if they went international, to bypass FAA approval or something, that wouldn't work, but even if they were simply buying an already launched satellite .. there'd be a federal law .. quickly.. what I mean is the current lack of law is just because states don't do this. There is no need for a law because it just doesn't happen. The lack of a law doesn't mean that the feds wouldn't create it .. they could easily create it if they had a trigger to create it. , satellites being telecommunication and aviation and environmental.. fed power... For example, if a state launched its own satellite because the federal service was too expensive.. competition ? nope, state you can't do that !
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Old 12-16-2016, 11:17 AM
Ravenman Ravenman is offline
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Originally Posted by Isilder View Post
More to the point, the federal government doesn't want a state to spend its revenue on wasteful projects and then ask for federal grants to do proper state work.

states therefore tend to focus on the typical state issues on the ground and not go all extraterritorial..

Any one satellite must always be useful to many states and it would not be politic to just go and do something for themselves, they'd have difficulty getting approvals from the feds, and even if they went international, to bypass FAA approval or something, that wouldn't work, but even if they were simply buying an already launched satellite .. there'd be a federal law .. quickly.. what I mean is the current lack of law is just because states don't do this. There is no need for a law because it just doesn't happen. The lack of a law doesn't mean that the feds wouldn't create it .. they could easily create it if they had a trigger to create it. , satellites being telecommunication and aviation and environmental.. fed power... For example, if a state launched its own satellite because the federal service was too expensive.. competition ? nope, state you can't do that !
Do you have a cite for any of this? Plenty of state-funded universities have built satellites, although typically much smaller than what we are talking about here.
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Old 12-16-2016, 12:03 PM
wevets wevets is offline
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Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
Do you have a cite for any of this? Plenty of state-funded universities have built satellites, although typically much smaller than what we are talking about here.

I don't know of any satellites completely build by a university in California, but the University of California system currently has its hands in the instrumentation/data processing/analysis on several satellites:

Quote:
Originally Posted by UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory
Current Research Projects

SSL instruments and detectors are currently operating on more than a dozen spacecraft in orbit, including the FUSE (Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopy Explorer), IMAGE (Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration), GALEX (Galaxy Evolution Explorer), and the MESSENGER mission to Mercury; the ISUAL (Imager for Sprites and Upper Atmospheric Lightning) instrument, Polar, Geotail and the four-spacecraft Cluster missions in Earth orbit; the Ulysses, Wind and SoHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) missions in orbit around the Sun, and the Mars Global Surveyor mission at Mars. The complete payloads of RHESSI (Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager), FAST (Fast Auroral SnapshoT), and the CHIPS (Cosmic Hot Interstellar Plasma Spectrometer) University Explorer were developed at SSL, and all of these spacecraft are being operated from SSL.

Under development at SSL are detectors for HST COS (Hubble Space Telescope Cosmic Origins Spectrograph), the STEREO/IMPACT (Solar-TErrestrial RElations Observatory/In-situ Measurements of Particles and CME Transients) suite of instruments, and THEMIS (Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms), a 5 spacecraft Explorer Mission. SSL is studying an exciting new major space mission-SNAP (SuperNova Acceleration Probe), in collaboration with Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.
From http://vcresearch.berkeley.edu/resea...ces-laboratory

One could imagine that if NASA lost interest in launching Earth observation missions in the future, SSL might do a similar kind of partnership with ESA to what it currently has with NASA, and it's hard to imagine Congress delving into contract law to prevent the state from signing this type of contract - that might have unforeseen consequences on all sorts of contracts that are unrelated to the issue.

The idea that California might completely build and launch its own satellite is a little silly. On the other hand, the idea that California might partner with foreign space science agencies like ESA or JAXA to do the type of science NASA might lose interest in doing is plausible, depending on the cost of contribution.
  #29  
Old 12-16-2016, 04:44 PM
Martin Hyde Martin Hyde is offline
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Originally Posted by Isilder View Post
More to the point, the federal government doesn't want a state to spend its revenue on wasteful projects and then ask for federal grants to do proper state work.

states therefore tend to focus on the typical state issues on the ground and not go all extraterritorial..

Any one satellite must always be useful to many states and it would not be politic to just go and do something for themselves, they'd have difficulty getting approvals from the feds, and even if they went international, to bypass FAA approval or something, that wouldn't work, but even if they were simply buying an already launched satellite .. there'd be a federal law .. quickly.. what I mean is the current lack of law is just because states don't do this. There is no need for a law because it just doesn't happen. The lack of a law doesn't mean that the feds wouldn't create it .. they could easily create it if they had a trigger to create it. , satellites being telecommunication and aviation and environmental.. fed power... For example, if a state launched its own satellite because the federal service was too expensive.. competition ? nope, state you can't do that !
Excuse me? "Federal government doesn't want a state to spend its revenue on wasteful projects." I've never seen any such evidence. Further, we have a constitution, it entitles the States to largely do whatever they want as long as it doesn't violate specific prohibitions in the U.S. Constitution, and as long as it doesn't attempt to do something specifically reserved for the Federal government in the constitution (like conduct foreign policy, declare war, mint coins or etc.)

On top of all that, we have a 240 year history in which States have often engaged in extremely wasteful endeavors, the only time the Feds have legitimate legal action in such cases is if State agencies are misspending Federal grant money, or doing things that put them out of compliance with laws that require compliance to receive Federal monies. Otherwise waste in State government isn't the bailiwick of anyone in the Federal government, period.
  #30  
Old 12-16-2016, 09:32 AM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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As an aside, wasn't this the same issue that earned Brown the nickname of "Governor Moonbeam" decades ago?
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Old 12-16-2016, 11:42 AM
watchwolf49 watchwolf49 is offline
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
As an aside, wasn't this the same issue that earned Brown the nickname of "Governor Moonbeam" decades ago?
In part ... it was more a general policy of intense McGovernik/commie/hippy liberalism ... one of Moonbeam's campaign planks when he ran for his third term was the promise to do everything opposite of what he did during his first two terms ...

ETA: Does the link in the OP reflect the first salvo of the 2020 Presidential campaign? Obviously this kind of rhetoric is a winning strategy, and Moonbeam is just the man to exploit this ...

Last edited by watchwolf49; 12-16-2016 at 11:44 AM.
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Old 12-16-2016, 02:51 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Remember, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory is part of CalTech. You'd be hard-pressed to find any satellite that JPL doesn't have their hands in.

(Yes, JPL is also part of NASA. Nothing says it has to be either/or.)
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Old 12-16-2016, 04:45 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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What? Single states acting for their own purposes are part of the very foundation of our federal system of government.
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Old 12-16-2016, 04:54 PM
Martin Hyde Martin Hyde is offline
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As a point of reference, California has a public school campus that they paid almost $600m for link. It's a little silly to act like the fancy satellites used for weather science that Stranger says cost $100m is some "omg never possible WOW BIG NUMBER" situation for the richest, largest state in America--a state that if it were a country would be the world's 35th most populous and the world's 6th richest.

California's GDP is more than twice that of Russia's, get serious people.

FWIW, I think Governor Brown was ranting, and don't expect California will be creating a program where it attempts to replicate NASA's earth science mission, or in which it would start paying for $100m satellites. There's probably a genuine question if the average California voter would want the state to spend money that way.

Seriously--California could fund NASA itself, by itself. NASA's budget is around $20bn/yr, California could actually afford that. California spends $60bn/yr on public schools, $33bn/yr on Health and Human Services, so fully funding NASA wouldn't even be the biggest line item in California's budget. I think fully funding NASA would represent about 11% of California's budget. Now obviously, I doubt Californians would again, want to spend $20bn/yr on this, it would require an increase in taxes, but the capacity is there. [In fact in a fanciful scenario where the Federal government closed NASA down and gave the difference back in the form of a small tax cut, at least some of the tax burden would be offset by lowered Federal taxes--something California tax payers pay into disproportionately already.]
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Old 12-16-2016, 08:08 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Remember, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory is part of CalTech. You'd be hard-pressed to find any satellite that JPL doesn't have their hands in.

(Yes, JPL is also part of NASA. Nothing says it has to be either/or.)
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is managed by Caltech but is owned by NASA and has been ever since it was transferred from GALCIT. For the most part, JPL does not build satellites; they design certain instruments (typically science and special telemetry instrumentation), perform the systems design, oversee integration, and perform mission operations. Of large satellite manufacturers in the United States, about half base their satellite operations in California (Lockheed Martin at Sunnyvale, Northrop Grumman at Redondo Beach, Boeing at El Segundo and Huntington Beach), but these are of course national aerospace companies with many military and aerospace contracts with the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and et cetera. If the federal government wanted to force them to not support some other line of business, e.g. providing satellite, those companies would have to accede.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Hyde View Post
I'm sure you're right--or maybe you just made a bunch of wild assumptions about what Brown's intentions are. He literally just said "we'll launch our own damn satellite." All kinds of non-U.S. government entities put satellites in space all the time.

I don't remember where Brown said "we're going to just launch it from California", I don't remember where he said "we're going to make our own space agency and design one ourselves" or any of that. $100m is peanuts, literally peanuts, for a State the size of California. Considering that Republicans love public-private partnerships, and even under Democrats NASA has been pushing more towards that, I very seriously doubt if a State is willing to give $100m to some entity (maybe even some governmental one) to build out and launch a satellite that the Republicans are going to care. Especially if some private contractor gets to make money on the deal. Republicans would also be loathe to take such a big stand against state autonomy.

For frame of reference cities regularly pay for $400m sports venues, cities. California is a state of 39m people with a $2.5 trillion GDP.

I see no reason to assume Governor Brown is proposing all kinds of crazy nonsense like doing all of it alone, assuming he was serious at all, California would cut a check and it'd be done.
No US entity puts satellites in space or operates communications equipment in orbit without the express approval of the US government (FAA, FCC, USSPACECOM). And replacing the Earth observations performed by NASA is, again, more than building and deploying a single $100M satellite. A brief perusal of the current missions being operated by the NASA Earth Observing System Program Office shows [URL=https://eospso.nasa.gov/current-missions]twenty-five current missions[/I], and even if you assume that not all would be needed for effective climate monitoring you're still looking at billions of dollars in launch costs alone, notwithstanding the cost to build and integrate satellites which are built with components and instrumentation coming from many other states. California, or private entities in California may enter into joint venture agreements or projects, but the federal government can very well prevent that by denying technology export licenses, passing federal restrictions based upon interstate commerce (US Constitution, Article I, Secton 8, Clause 3), and using its authority in control of Customs to prevent the importation or exportation of equipment or information, all of which is perfectly legal.

Now, I don't think the US government, even under Trump, is going to shut down all Earth observation programs because that would be incredibly stupid and expensive, and would also likely run into many legal challenges and contract violations, but if desired the executive branch and/or Congress can certainly put a stranglehold on programs to evaluate the data or support extended missions, and could (in some cases) restrict access to the data collected. But if the federal government was so directed it could shut down the missions and prevent any state or incorporated body in California or another state from performing space-based observation, and there is little California could actually do; nor could California conceivably run an internal space program on the same scale as NASA and deploy replacement observation systems in a reasonable timeframe. Brown hasn't considered anything; this is just a reflexive, off the cuff response to some inane stupidity on the part of a Trump advisor.

Stranger
  #36  
Old 12-17-2016, 02:34 AM
coremelt coremelt is offline
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A more interesting and likely possibility would be for a coalition of "Blue States" to cooperate and form their own climate science agency funded from their own state budgets. The combined Blue States could afford to fund and build their own damn satellites aplenty.

As Stranger says, the federal government could attempt to hinder all launch efforts by the "BSSA" (Blue States Space Agency), but I'm sure there would be court cases challenging those efforts. If all else failed they could just give money to fund the efforts of ESA, JAXA and don't forget India, ISRO has been doing good things recently. I'm not sure the Feds could block states from giving money to foreign space agencies (of allied countries) could they?
  #37  
Old 12-17-2016, 11:10 AM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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There is an entire conversation going on here with no reference to any fact in law. Have you guys never actually read the US Constitution? It is not very long and for a legal document generally very clear and concise. Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 (the so-called "Interstate Commerce Clause") forms the basis for much of federal regulatory authority over the states, and the US government authority for making binding treaty agreements. For reference, see the US Constitution, Article I, Section 8:
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

...
Yes, the federal government absolutely has the authority, should they impose it, to prevent individual states from entering into agreements with one another involving trade or finance, and can most certainly prevent states from making any kind of treaties or joint ventures with foreign nations. This is not "a bunch of wild assumptions"; it is the fundamental law of the nation, and the easily researched regulations stemming from it. The federal government could not prevent California from funding a program or building a satellite within its own borders, but could certainly prevent other states from working in explicit cooperation, and of course the federal government "owns" both the airspace that a launch vehicle would have to fly through, necessitating FAA approval, and the frequency spectrum that a satellite would need some portion of which to transmit, requiring an FCC license. The federal government also controls all export of any technology with potential application for military use through 22 USC 2778 and regulated by the US State Department under the Interntional Trafficking in Arms Regulations, which definitely includes a space launch vehicle and many components within it such as guidance and communication systems. International trafficking would including towing a launch vehicle on a barge into international waters, and there is no launch facility or range from California that is not owned by the US Department of Defense.

California is not going to be legally operating its own indigenous space program in defiance of federal approval. To suggest otherwise is obtuse to all existing law and the relationship between the federal government and the states.

Stranger

Last edited by Stranger On A Train; 12-17-2016 at 11:11 AM.
  #38  
Old 12-17-2016, 04:01 PM
Martin Hyde Martin Hyde is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger On A Train View Post
No US entity puts satellites in space or operates communications equipment in orbit without the express approval of the US government (FAA, FCC, USSPACECOM).
Oh okay. I remember where we all said otherwise--wait, no one did. You've actually already said this. Again, all Jerry Brown said was "we'll launch our own damn satellite." Your response here is like if Elon Musk said "we'll launch a rocket" to respond "well they can't just launch rockets into space, there's government approvals and etc." Maybe the more reasonable thing is, if we take it on face value that the Governor of California wants to launch something into space, he's not going to just call up ULA and be like "hey can we launch some satellite I'm going to pull out of my ass in to space next week? I assume we need no government approval for this, since I've only been in government for 45 years and have been Governor of California on multiple occasions, graduated from the University of California-Berkeley and Yale Law I'm a fundamentally stupid person that believes this is how things work, and don't understand that maybe I'll need subordinates who know what they're doing in this subject area to detail a plan of action."

Again, I don't think California is going down this route, it was politics (psst--Jerry Brown is a politician), but I'd wager a good bit of money if some entity like say the State of California wanted to do research and launch weather satellites, they'd get all the approvals necessary and I very seriously doubt anyone in the Federal government would treat them unfairly or try to "block it" for some "vague reasons" argument relating to the Feds not wanting California to do satellite-based research.

Quote:
And replacing the Earth observations performed by NASA is, again, more than building and deploying a single $100M satellite. A brief perusal of the current missions being operated by the NASA Earth Observing System Program Office shows [URL=https://eospso.nasa.gov/current-missions]twenty-five current missions[/I], and even if you assume that not all would be needed for effective climate monitoring you're still looking at billions of dollars in launch costs alone, notwithstanding the cost to build and integrate satellites which are built with components and instrumentation coming from many other states.
This is where I'm confused again. What are you responding to? Something you wish people had said? Or something people actually said? Because what I actually said was not just that $100m is peanuts, but that California could actually fund all of NASA. I consider it borderline offensive that you're trying to portray it like I said California could replace NASA's earth science/climate monitoring operation by writing a single check for $100m and launching a single satellite into space. The plain reading of what I said makes it quite clear I was not saying that.

Then you finish this quoted passage with a fundamentally confusing comment "..built with components and instrumentation coming from many other states." What the hell is this a response to? Where did anyone say California had to be 100% independent in this venture? Jerry Brown said we can launch our own damn satellite, he didn't say all t his other stuff. You act like you're the only person in the world that knows complex machinery is made with components sourced not only from other states--but often from all over the world. Which again, is borderline insulting--I challenge that there's anyone of even average intelligence who doesn't understand at least on a very basic level we have a globally interconnected economy and complex machines frequently have parts that come from all over the place. None of which has anything to do with the topic here, and is countering a point no one has made (that California isn't only going to launch a satellite, but source 100% of the raw materials and the intermediate parts, and the design work, solely from within its borders because California has suddenly become the Hermit Kingdom akin to feudal Korea.)

Quote:
California, or private entities in California may enter into joint venture agreements or projects, but the federal government can very well prevent that by denying technology export licenses, passing federal restrictions based upon interstate commerce (US Constitution, Article I, Secton 8, Clause 3), and using its authority in control of Customs to prevent the importation or exportation of equipment or information, all of which is perfectly legal.
The list of things the federal government could do to be asshats is almost endless, and the reality is they do only a small portion of those things. Actual history, both recent and older, suggests the Federal government has literal interests in interfering with States who want to engage in spending money on various initiatives.

Quote:
Now, I don't think the US government, even under Trump, is going to shut down all Earth observation programs because that would be incredibly stupid and expensive, and would also likely run into many legal challenges and contract violations, but if desired the executive branch and/or Congress can certainly put a stranglehold on programs to evaluate the data or support extended missions, and could (in some cases) restrict access to the data collected. But if the federal government was so directed it could shut down the missions and prevent any state or incorporated body in California or another state from performing space-based observation, and there is little California could actually do; nor could California conceivably run an internal space program on the same scale as NASA and deploy replacement observation systems in a reasonable timeframe. Brown hasn't considered anything; this is just a reflexive, off the cuff response to some inane stupidity on the part of a Trump advisor.
Congress could close NASA on 1/20 if it felt like it, or even more drastic things like defund the entire government. They could (and this has been proven by the debt ceiling nonsense) even refuse to pay debts (in violation of the 14th Amendment's provision against exactly this), Congress could also impeach Trump and Pence and make Paul Ryan President and then he could launch nukes all over the globe and bring about Armageddon. The universe of things congress "could do" is vast, but sans evidence there's no reason to assume they will do things way off the spectrum of normal behavior.

This is why you don't see many engineers in government--politicians don't actually have to prepare a 500 page document before they utter a word. Brown was simply making the point that in response to Trump doing things antithetical to California, for example weakening research on climate change, California will be willing to step up to the plate.
  #39  
Old 12-17-2016, 08:16 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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Your entire argument is that there is no factual basis for the US government prohibiting a state from engaging in this kind of interstate compact or joint venture with a foreign party is solely based on a lack of precedent, which ignores the reality that the entire premise of a state establishing its space program or similar venture that occurs outside of its borders or authority is also unprecedented. The question, again, is "What would be the legal (especially fight with national government?) or other hurdles to doing so - could it be done?" The answer is that, aside from the powers of the federal government to regulate "commerce" (and "commerce" has been so broadly defined as to include enforcement of legislative action of state legislatures and forms the entire basis for federal prohibition of controlled substances and other "indirect" impacts on commerce), the government could deny regulatory approval for launch, technology export, or use of the frequency spectrum. Whether it would and the court challenges that may arise from arbitrary application of such regulations notwithstanding, the federal government could prevent the state of California from launching or operating a satellite.

Stranger
  #40  
Old 12-18-2016, 01:46 PM
Martin Hyde Martin Hyde is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger On A Train View Post
Your entire argument is that there is no factual basis for the US government prohibiting a state from engaging in this kind of interstate compact or joint venture with a foreign party is solely based on a lack of precedent, which ignores the reality that the entire premise of a state establishing its space program or similar venture that occurs outside of its borders or authority is also unprecedented. The question, again, is "What would be the legal (especially fight with national government?) or other hurdles to doing so - could it be done?" The answer is that, aside from the powers of the federal government to regulate "commerce" (and "commerce" has been so broadly defined as to include enforcement of legislative action of state legislatures and forms the entire basis for federal prohibition of controlled substances and other "indirect" impacts on commerce), the government could deny regulatory approval for launch, technology export, or use of the frequency spectrum. Whether it would and the court challenges that may arise from arbitrary application of such regulations notwithstanding, the federal government could prevent the state of California from launching or operating a satellite.

Stranger
Well Jerry Brown didn't say he wanted to establish his own space program, nor did the OP ask about the barriers to that. We actually have precedent for state governments putting satellites in space, Montana State University has several small cubesats in space, for example.

More obvious a counterpoint would be the example of all the communications satellites operated by companies like SES Americom that are a) quite large and b) in a geosynchronous orbit, it's silly to act like it's "more likely than not" a state would be disallowed from launching a research satellite with parameters similar to communications satellites private entities have already launched.

Like I've said--barring unprecedented behavior by the government, for which there is no evidence to expect, and which in some respects could be legally or constitutionally troublesome, it's highly likely California can put a satellite in space just like SES Americom can or any other similar company.
  #41  
Old 12-18-2016, 01:49 PM
Martin Hyde Martin Hyde is offline
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If you want to get into the politics of it, as I've said a few times--it'd be highly weird for Republicans to be in favor of blocking states spending money on their own initiative. About the only time you see Republicans seriously against State's rights are when it's some social conservative issue (gay marriage, abortion etc), I've been a Republican my entire life (albeit not a social conservative), I'd be very surprised if there was a serious effort in the party to block a liberal state from spending money on its own scientific research initiatives, including launching satellites into geosynchronous orbit to observe the weather.

Let's keep in mind at least so far the climate-skeptic wing hasn't suggested shutting these satellites down--but rather transferring them to NOAA. So we're several turns down the rabbit hole with this scenario in any case--but going even further down, speculation about Republicans seeking to quash California's sovereignty to stop it from spending money on scientific research, is highly unlikely.
  #42  
Old 12-18-2016, 01:26 PM
wevets wevets is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squidfood View Post
Let's ignore the immediate politics and reasons, and say that the California legislature has an overwhelming vote to build a satellite, and for bigger political cover got a huge Yes on a "let's build a satellite" ballot initiative for whole-earth monitoring like this. What would be the legal (especially fight with national government?) or other hurdles to doing so - could it be done?

I think the disagreement may be illuminated by looking at the OP's question from two angles:

(1) What would be the legal or other hurdles to California launching its own satellite in a business-as-usual scenario where California's satellite is treated like those of other non-national-government entities?

(2) What would be the legal or other hurdles to California launching its own satellite in a scenario where the federal government wishes to exercise its power to prevent California from doing so?


The request in the OP to "ignore the immediate politics and reasons" makes it a little ambiguous which (or both?) of the two questions best fits the OP's mindset, however, some interesting answers to both are already in the thread.

Last edited by wevets; 12-18-2016 at 01:26 PM.
  #43  
Old 12-18-2016, 02:04 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wevets View Post
I think the disagreement may be illuminated by looking at the OP's question from two angles:

(1) What would be the legal or other hurdles to California launching its own satellite in a business-as-usual scenario where California's satellite is treated like those of other non-national-government entities?

(2) What would be the legal or other hurdles to California launching its own satellite in a scenario where the federal government wishes to exercise its power to prevent California from doing so?


The request in the OP to "ignore the immediate politics and reasons" makes it a little ambiguous which (or both?) of the two questions best fits the OP's mindset, however, some interesting answers to both are already in the thread.
+1
  #44  
Old 12-19-2016, 01:14 PM
squidfood squidfood is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wevets View Post
The request in the OP to "ignore the immediate politics and reasons" makes it a little ambiguous which (or both?) of the two questions best fits the OP's mindset, however, some interesting answers to both are already in the thread.
As the OP, I was musing (before I got to your post) that I should have clarified that it would be interesting to discuss it from both angles (1) if President said "sure, whatever", and (2) if the President wanted to use all legal means to stop it. So I am interested in both the practical and the legal, and as you say, I'm enjoying the interesting answers to both!

My "ignore the immediate politics" was to head off talk about whether Brown really meant it or was just posturing, or whether climate research/satellite was worth funding, which this thread has mostly avoided.
  #45  
Old 05-09-2017, 06:13 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is online now
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California plans for collecting taxes on spaceflight
SF Chronicle, Dominic Fracassa May 3, 2017

[California's] Franchise Tax Board is seeking public comment on its proposal for computing taxes on commercial space transportation companies.
[...]
The rules are designed to apply to any company operating in California that generates at least half the money it takes in from “space transportation” — defined as the movement of people or property 62 miles above the surface of the Earth. [...] It would apply to companies that use California as a launchpad, not California companies launching from other states, like Texas or Florida.
  #46  
Old 05-09-2017, 06:21 PM
Dr. Strangelove Dr. Strangelove is offline
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(not targeted at you, Leo) I recommend reading the article before concluding from the headline "Those crazy Californians. Is there anything they won't tax?" Another take on the proposal.
  #47  
Old 05-09-2017, 06:39 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is online now
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Here's the reg doc, from the Dr.'s cite.

Fascinating how the two different supposedly non-editorial news pieces, mine from May 3, the next from May 6, are exactly opposite in couching the same information and its ramifications; that is, the opinions of the first news report are that it will be opposed by any sane businessman, and of the other report how the launch business themselves want the taxes, which is a man-bites-dog if there ever was one.

Which is a fascinating story to be continued in its own...
  #48  
Old 05-09-2017, 07:26 PM
Dr. Strangelove Dr. Strangelove is offline
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I'd say that your cite was fairly neutral; it's just that the headline is easy to read negatively. Nevertheless, it contains this line:

The Franchise Tax Board says it received input from the private space companies on the proposed rules, which largely resemble a draft submitted by SpaceX, perhaps the industry’s most recognizable company. SpaceX, which is headquartered in Hawthorne (Los Angeles County), declined to comment.

Clearly, if the proposal resembles a draft submitted by one of the major companies, it can't be too bad. Industry likes to lower risk and reducing an area of financial/legal uncertainty achieves those goals. It's likely that the actual tax will be nominal.
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