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Spaceport Liability Waiver Unanimously Passes Senate

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Approval of a less-intrusive environmental study of a second, southern route to Spaceport America should speed up the paving of an existing unpaved road off I-25 between Radium Springs and Hatch. (Journal File)

SANTA FE — Legislation to expand the state’s  spaceport liability waiver to include spacecraft manufacturers unanimously passed the Senate today without debate.

Although the effort fell short during the past two legislative sessions, the proposal outlined in Senate Bill 240 has received broad support in the Senate. That bill includes new language drafted after Virgin Galactic, the spaceport’s primary tenant, and the New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association, a chief opponent to the liability waiver, negotiated terms of the legislation.

The new version of the spaceport liability bill includes a requirement that all commercial aerospace companies carry an liability insurance policy of at least $1 million. The liability waiver prevents spaceflight passengers from filing some lawsuits but not not affect residents on the ground.

Virgin Galactic has requested the state expand its liability waiver to include spacecraft manufacturers to help recruit companies to relocate to the state’s $209 million Spaceport America. Virgin Galactic has said at least two companies that considered moving to New Mexico in 2012 chose to move to another state in part because New Mexico did not have the legal protections for manufacturers.

Following today’s 34-0 Senate vote, the bill now goes to the House for consideration.

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