Suborbital Operators Face Insurance Unknowns

World_Space_Risk_ForumSo, just how powerless are future millionauts and their heirs in suing companies for injuries and deaths sustained during suborbital joyrides to the final frontier? Nobody is quite sure yet.

Thus far, the FAA has put forth an informed consent regime in which passengers must acknowledge they are undertaking a risky activity. At least six U.S. states have passed informed consent laws that provide space companies with various levels of protection from lawsuits filed over accidents, injuries and deaths during spaceflight operations.


Renewed Spaceflight Immunity Pitch Hits Turbulance in New Mexico

An effort by Spaceport America officials to get legal immunity extended to spacecraft manufacturers and suppliers hit a patch of rough air last week during a hearing held by two interim legislative panels in Truth or Consequences last week.

Spaceport America Executive Director Christine Anderson told lawmakers that the bill’s failure in the 2012 Legislature was a key reason behind one company’s decision to locate its headquarters in Florida — a state that already has OK’d the legal immunity being proposed. New Mexico is at risk for losing more potential spaceport clients, she said.


Colorado Governor to Sign Space Limited Liability Bill

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., April 18, 2012 (Colorado Space Coalition PR) — Tomorrow, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper will sign into law a bill that will position Colorado to capitalize on significant new opportunities in commercial space transportation.

Gov. Hickenlooper will sign Senate Bill 35 during an industry luncheon on Thursday, April 19 at the 28th National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, the premier gathering of the global space community. The law limits liability for companies that would operate space flights from the proposed Spaceport Colorado.


Witt: California Governor’s Office to Send Advance Team to Mojave

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Mojave Air and Space Port General Manager Stu Witt is making some progress in his campaign to get Sacramento to provide more support for his facility and the aerospace industry across California.

Witt told the East Kern Airport District Board of Directors on Tuesday that he recently got a call from the office of Gov. Jerry Brown, which will be sending an advance team from the state’s Office of Economic Development for a one-day visit to the desert spaceport. The call came after a letter of support from Larry Adams and Jay Sprague, president and vice president, respectively, of the California City Development Corporation.

Although the Mojave spaceport is thriving as an R&D center, it is doing so in spite of a terrible business climate caused by high taxes and burdensome regulations, Witt believes. The state is under serious threat of losing its innovative aerospace companies to other states that are offering financial incentives and looser regulations. The state earlier lost its aircraft industry in a similar manner.


California Spacecraft Limited Liability Law Advances in Assembly

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

A limited liability bill protecting spacecraft operators from lawsuits except if they are grossly negligent or intentionally cause injury to spaceflight participants is making its way through the California Legislature. The measure would put the state on an even footing with New Mexico, Virginia and Florida, which have passed similar measures.

The bill, introduced by Assemblyman Steve Knight of California’s 36th district, would

require a space flight entity, as defined, to collect a signed warning statement, as specified, from each participant in space flight activities, as defined. In addition to the disclosures required by federal law, the bill would require the warning statement to, at a minimum, inform the participant that the space flight entity is not liable for bodily injury sustained as a result of the risks associated with space flight activities. The bill would limit the liability of a space flight entity that complies with these provisions, except as provided. The bill would state findings and declarations of the Legislature regarding the nature of the space flight industry.


Texas Legislation Would Block Millionauts From Suing Space Tourism Operators

Senator files bill in advance of commercial space travel

Senator Carlos Uresti has filed Senate Bill 115, also known as the “Space Flight Liability” bill.  It would protect private space flight companies from being sued if passengers on board are injured or killed.  Uresti says if he would have waited to file the bill until the next legislative session in two years, that could be too late.

The start of commercial space flight has been taking off around the country.  Last week, a private ship that took off from Florida orbited the Earth in just a few hours….

On the edge of Uresti’s district, the space flight company “Blue Origin” has been launching test flights from their West Texas Launch site. Engineers expect to send up the first human being in 2012.

Read the full story.

Richardson Gives Big Shout Out to Spaceport America


Giving his final State of the State address, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson gave a big shout-out to one of his signature projects, Spaceport America.

I’m pleased to report that Spaceport America is ahead of schedule and under budget. As we speak four hundred and sixty-seven new workers are on the job constructing the first commercial spaceport in the world, with one hundred and fifty to three hundred more hires expected over this year.