FAA officials were in Georgia this week telling lawmakers the state needs to pass liability laws shielding spaceflight companies from lawsuits from injured passengers and their heirs if it wants to compete with other states.
“In states like Florida and Texas that have a law, that is the statute a federal judge is going to look at,” Dan Murray, a manager with the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, told members of a Georgia House subcommittee exploring a planned commercial spaceport in southeastern Georgia.
The Georgia House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation this year aimed at shielding spaceport operators from civil lawsuits stemming from injuries to civilians who participate in a space flight. But the bill died in the Georgia Senate amid concerns expressed primarily by Georgians with second homes on nearby Cumberland Island and Little Cumberland Island worried about the noise from commercial launches and their potential to pose a safety hazard.
Tuesday’s testimony from Murray and the FAA’s Jared Stout made it clear Georgia needs a liability shield law if the proposed Spaceport Camden is to compete with spaceports in Texas and Florida, said Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, the House bill’s chief sponsor and chairman of the subcommittee.
“These states are trying to make themselves competitive by giving some additional layer of [protection from] liability beyond the federal act,” he said.
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