New legislation signed into law in New Mexico to protect space tourism companies from frivolous lawsuits
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
This is a fairly important piece of news on the legal side of sending tourists up into space, no less important than any new technological development. New Mexico has just signed into law a bill that puts companies involved in space tourism the same legal footing as other companies involved in other fairly risky ventures (mountain climbing, hang gliding, etc.) have, where they are only able to be sued in cases of gross negligence or willful misconduct. In other words, no cases involving suing the company for a sprained ankle or wrist suffered on the way down. Private space tourism is dominated by passengers who are extremely well-off and able to afford some pretty impressive legal counsel when needed, so without this a company involved in space tourism could be beset by enough frivolous lawsuits to render the whole business unfeasible.
One caveat: this still only applies to New Mexico airspace, so flights have to both leave the state and also land there again. This limits the areas that can be used for landing in an emergency.