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Thu, Apr 04, 2013

New Mexico Governor Signs Spaceflight Liability Bill

Development Welcomed By The Commercial Spaceflight Federation, Virgin Galactic

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez (pictured) signed a bill into law Tuesday that will extend liability protections beyond spacecraft operators. Through informed consent, spaceflight participants are accepting the risks associated with spaceflight. Should they incur any injury while participating in spaceflight activities, this bill will provide the necessary liability protection from lawsuits against the vehicle operator, manufacturer, and suppliers.

“Spacecraft manufacturers and their suppliers are entitled to the same liability protection given to the operators, particularly in the critical first few years of routine flight operations,” stated Commercial Spaceflight Federation President Michael Lopez-Alegria. “This bill acknowledges that spaceflight is an inherently risky activity and provides the necessary protections for all the companies involved while still holding them accountable. With this legislation in place, Spaceport America will continue to become one of our nation’s hubs for commercial spaceflight. I applaud the efforts of New Mexico Governor Martinez on this issue and that of the State Legislature for getting the bill to the Governor’s desk. This is a great success for the commercial spaceflight industry not only in New Mexico but the nation.”

“This is an important day for the future of commercial space flight in the state of New Mexico. This bill, SB 240, will significantly improve the competitiveness of Spaceport America and help create jobs for New Mexicans. The signing of this bill by Governor Susana Martinez represents a vital milestone for commercial space flight in the state," said Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides in a statement.

“We would like to commend Governor Susana Martinez, the legislators, and all other parties who came together to craft this legislation in the best interests of the entire state. Gov. Martinez has shown leadership and vision, as well as the determination to make this bill a reality. We would also like to thank the legislators who voted to pass this bill, in particular the sponsors, Senator Mary Kay Papen and Rep. Jim White, as well as co-sponsor Senator John Arthur Smith. We’d also like to thank the Senate leadership: Sens. Mary Kay Papen, Michael Sanchez, Stuart Ingle, Tim Keller, and William Payne; thanks also to House leadership: Speaker Ken Martinez and Reps. Rick Miera, Don Bratton, Moe Maestas and Nate Gentry. The legislature acted to promote economic development and the future of the industry in the state. We would also like to thank Christine Anderson and the staff of NMSA, as well as Secretary Jon Barela and the Economic Development Department. Virgin Galactic would also like to express its gratitude to the grassroots coalition of citizens and local organizations that worked so hard on this bill and should be recognized for their efforts.”

FMI: www.commercialspaceflight.org, www.virgingalactic.com

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