California space law boosts business, not safety

Private cargo-carrying spacecraft? No problem, but put people on commercial flights and things get messy. Just as NASA set the date for SpaceX’s first official trip to the International Space Station, the firm’s home state of California passed a law lightening company responsibility for the safety of future passengers. No private space firm yet sends crewed flights […]
Private cargo-carrying spacecraft? No problem, but put people on commercial flights and things get messy. Just as NASA set the date for SpaceX’s first official trip to the International Space Station, the firm’s home state of California passed a law lightening company responsibility for the safety of future passengers. No private space firm yet sends crewed flights to space, but that is the plan. The new law treats spaceflight rather like sky-diving, requiring future travellers to give “informed consent”. They agree not to sue the company they fly with if they’re injured or killed in the process. California is the last of the states hosting major contenders in the commercial space race to pass such a law, trailing Virginia, home to Orbital Sciences, New Mexico (Virgin Galactic), and Texas (Blue Origin), which have already done so. The laws may make a state more attractive to space businesses, but without statistics on the safety of commercial flights, travellers sign away their right to sue blindly. However, space tourists may not care: Virgin Galactic, which plans to launch its first crewed flight in 2013, has a roster of passengers who have signed consent agreements. What is your opinion?
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