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Don Bliss Jr.’s legal career as a transportation lawyer has focused largely on flight within earth’s atmosphere, but he might have to set his sights a little higher with his recent appointment as chairman of the American Bar Association’s Air & Space Forum. Bliss, a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Los Angeles-based O’Melveny & Myers, took on the new position earlier this month, shortly before the apparent — and much publicized — loss of the Mars Polar Lander somewhere on or around its namesake red planet. In a telephone interview last week, Bliss was asked whether the Air & Space Forum might consider the ill-fated Mars mission. “It’s a good idea,” he said, “and I will probably bring it up.” Specifically, Bliss said the forum might want to address the “faster, cheaper, better” policy instituted in recent years by Daniel Goldin, administrator of NASA. Does the policy mean that outside contractors have been forced to cut critical corners in working with NASA on its exploration of Mars? Bliss says it would indeed be prudent for the ABA forum to consider the legal issues involved, such as liability.

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