Space Tourism and Informed Consent Laws

ATI specializes in Space and Launch Vehicles technical training. We thought that the evolving state of law and regulations discussed below may interest you. A full listing of ATIcourses” Space and Launch is listed at this link.  http://www.aticourses.com/catalog_of_all_ATI_courses.htm#space Spaceport America is lobbying New Mexico legislators to expand legislation to provide protection to suppliers and manufacturers […]
ATI specializes in Space and Launch Vehicles technical training. We thought that the evolving state of law and regulations discussed below may interest you. A full listing of ATIcourses” Space and Launch is listed at this link.  http://www.aticourses.com/catalog_of_all_ATI_courses.htm#space Spaceport America is lobbying New Mexico legislators to expand legislation to provide protection to suppliers and manufacturers of private spacecraft’s.  New Mexico already has legislation exempting operators from being sued by passengers, so long as the passenger has signed an informed consent. However, the current exemption does not apply to suppliers and manufacturers, could be liable if or when an accident occurs. Without such protections space tourism companies, such as Virgin Galactic, may be forced to leave New Mexico for states that provide greater liability protection.  For example, Virginia  2007 legislation addressing immunity from tort claims relating to space flight broadly defined “space entity” to include not only an operator but also “any manufacturer or supplier of components, services, or vehicles that have been reviewed by” the FAA as part of issuing such a permit or license.. Va. Code. Ann. §§ 8.01-227.8 to 8.01-227.10. However, even if New Mexico passes legislation similar Virginia’s, it is unclear if  that legislation would provided the desired protections. Discussing the proposed legislation, attorney Guigi Carminati stated: “I understand the impetus to try to match other states, but right now there is no guarantee it’s enforceable.”   There are several potential problems with immunizing legislation.  First, it is unclear whether any such state legislation would be pre-empted by federal law. Second, informed consent waivers are not always enforceable in court.  Although there is a substantial body of case law regarding when informed consent for dangerous activities is and is not enforceable, there is no case law relating to space launches. Despite the uncertainties surrounding informed consent legislation, one thing is clear. The failure to pass a liability exemption for suppliers and manufacturers could cripple New Mexico’s commercial space industry.  Former FAA official, Patti Smith, noted that “since other states have extended the liability exemption to suppliers, New Mexico must do the same to remain competitive.” Otherwise facilities such as Space Port America, New Mexico’s recently completed $200 million commercial spaceport, may be left  deserted. You can find more information in this interesting article. ATIcourses instructors are available as expert witnesses in the technical and engineering areas of Space Technology  http://www.crowell.com/files/2011-Limitations-On-Liability-As-To-Space-Tourists.pdf   Another useful source of information is http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20130107/us-travel-spaceport-liability-legislation/?utm_hp_ref=green&ir=green
Sign Up For ATI Courses eNewsletter

 

Do You Think That Tourist Space Flight Is A viable Industry in the Next 10 Years?

ATIcourses has long tracked the emerging new space launch models for Space Tourism. Several of ATI’s courses feature the technology for lower-cost space launch systems. There is excitement, but do you think the tourist Space Flight Is A viable Industry in the Next 10 Years? Virgin Galactic which is investing over $300 million in developing […]
ATIcourses has long tracked the emerging new space launch models for Space Tourism. Several of ATI’s courses feature the technology for lower-cost space launch systems. There is excitement, but do you think the tourist Space Flight Is A viable Industry in the Next 10 Years? Virgin Galactic which is investing over $300 million in developing a new space launch system which will operate at the New Mexico Spaceport America after it opens. Today’s event clearly signals the birth of a new commercial age in space and is a proud moment for the vision and foresight of both the people and government of the state of New Mexico.” With Spaceport America officials and supporters of commercial space development in attendance, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport broke ground today in southern New Mexico. Today’s event delivered on the promise of an exciting new age for space exploration and development, as well as a bright future for the people of New Mexico and their children. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson remarked on the importance of the groundbreaking for the spaceport. “After all of the hard work to get this project off the ground, it is gratifying to see Spaceport America finally become a reality.” Executive Director Steve Landeene of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) commented, “The groundbreaking for Spaceport America is the beginning of a historic new chapter in New Mexico’s long legacy of space and cutting-edge technology. Virgin Galactic President Will Whitehorn was excited to be at the groundbreaking for Spaceport America. “The groundbreaking is an enormous milestone for Virgin Galactic which is investing over $300 million in developing a new space launch system which will operate at Spaceport America after it opens. Today’s event clearly signals the birth of a new commercial age in space and is a proud moment for the vision and foresight of both the people and government of the state of New Mexico.” Today’s groundbreaking initiates construction on a cutting-edge, 110,000-plus square foot-facility using cost-effective, energy-efficient green building practices. In accordance with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson’s executive order 2006-001 for state buildings, Spaceport America’s terminal hangar facility will be built to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system. Extensive use of sustainable and clean energy technology throughout the design will ensure that the spaceport will set the standard for environmentally sound design for similar structures in the future. The design for Spaceport America’s terminal hangar facility was created by a team of American and British architects that were selected after competing in an international design competition. URS Corporation, one of the world’s largest design and engineering firms, teamed with lead designer Foster Partners of the United Kingdom to submit the winning design.