Bill Richardson: Mojave Space Consultant

UPDATE: The Bakersfield Californian reports that this is old news. Richardson was paid $10,000 earlier this year for acting as a consultant in helping to get the informed consent law passed. “It’s done. It’s over,” says Mojave spaceport CEO Stu Witt.

The Mojave Air and Space Port has signed up a heavy hitter in an effort to strengthen California’s spaceflight informed consent law:

Former Gov. Bill Richardson will be going to work for a California spaceport to help push lawmakers there for an expanded “informed consent” law protecting manufacturers and suppliers of private spacecraft from most civil lawsuits.

Stuart Witt, executive director of the Mojave Air and Space Port, confirmed Monday that Richardson has been hired as a consultant. Terms of his deal will be made public Wednesday when the spaceport’s governing authority reviews the contract.

Mojave is seeking expanded protection in California similar to the kind the Martinez administration is pushing the New Mexico Legislature to adopt for Spaceport America – a $209 million project near Truth or Consequences that was one of Richardson’s signature initiatives.

The California Legislature significantly altered the informed consent bill before passing it. The original draft would have given spaceflight operators immunity from lawsuits for injuries or deaths except in cases of gross negligence or intentional harm. Under the current law, companies have limited civil liability.

Witt has said he is looking to change the law next year. He is hoping that Assemblyman Steve Knight, who sponsored the legislation, succeeds in his bid to represent the Antelope Valley in the State Senate. Witt expects that Knight would have the clout to push for changes.

One curious aspect: The East Kern Airport District, which governs the Mojave spaceport, usually meets on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. So, it would be unlikely to meet tomorrow. It’s possible that the first meeting in November has been delayed a day due to the national elections taking place next Tuesday. I’ll try to find out more later today.

UPDATE: Apparently there is a special meeting of the EKAD board tomorrow.

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