Friday, June 22, 2007

One small step for cannabis: HempSat-X™

Section (Associated Market Segments) of 1997's Commercial Space Transportation Study (CSTS) by the United Space Alliance, it is subsections d, e, and f that are relevant for use here.

The study's methodology links subsection e, space agriculture, with subsection d, space settlements. As the study concluded that the market for space settlements was defocused due to lack of an assessed market demand, the study did not report in any depth on space agriculture.

But it's in 3.7.6 of the CSTS, Multiuse LEO Business Park, that is the most relevant.

'Market Infrastructure' (, raises the political & financial questions: tax laws, registering deeds, operating expenses and so on.

And it is here you find a legal landmine:

" One of the standard clauses in all U.S. real estate contracts is a statement saying, ' this contract shall be governed by the laws of the state of _________.' This clause needs to be clarified for a space business park development."

Bottom line: it's potentially legal as well as financial suicide if designing any C. Sativa on-orbit research based on the use of any American commercial orbiting facilities. It will no doubt take years of litigation, and tens of millions of dollars away from any real research & technological development to legally secure access of any orbiting platforms.

And even if it was possible to gain access, would it even be economically viable to do so? It's been reported that in 2002, NASA charged over US $ 20 million for facility usage ( fixed time , consumables, station power , data transmission, communications, etc.) and US $15,000/hour for ISS personnel assistance.

Outsourcing this on-orbit research to another international platform is not even an option. The NASA forced ISS/Mir debacle is solid proof of that. So at least for the next ten years the ISS is the only game in town for human space research.

Hence the critical need for the development of HempSat-X™: an independent automated micro-satellite, launched from international territory, dedicated to place cosmoponically germinated industrial cannabis (low/no THC) plants in low earth orbit for remote microgravity research. It bypasses the entire issue of using a crewed facility.

Unfortunately, a big downside is the micro-sat cannot re-enter the atmosphere & deliver the plants themselves back to Earth for full post-orbit analysis by researchers. Not only would it be cost prohibitive, there's also legal issues to consider. One of course would be if it could return with the plants intact and land in US territory, would the DEA consider the entire project as prosecutable under RICO? Maybe.

And what about insurance? Bet the premiums would be, well, astronomical. Getting quotes from aerospace insurers for a project cost analysis should be interesting.

I am working under the assumption that I can, for the near future, work up the inital design phase as outlined in Sarafin. One of the ideas I have regarding the bus modelling/fabrication process is using a more environmentally-friendly hemp-based molding material. Perhaps even using a hemp-based material as part of the structure itself. If that's feasible, then the satellite really will earn it's name.

It's way too early to be concerned about securing any outside funding. Though my guess is that soliciting for funding could very well be another legal landmine. But that's another topic.

Granted, I have no prior professional experience in this field. This is going to take some time to come to fruition. But that's the whole point behind the 'New Space' ( n00b Space? ) concept? To be personally involved in advancing humans in space instead of waiting for some government to to do it. If they ever do, that is.

What I do know is that without pursuing this so very important "one small step", the Big Vision is just another utopian science fiction concept that comes to light and fades away all too soon.

No comments: