Texas State Sen. Carlos Uresti has pre-filed a bill for the 82nd Texas Legislature designed to help a West Texas space flight company protect itself from unjust lawsuits and would strengthen the legal waivers of liability signed by passengers who were made aware of the risks involved with sub-orbital space flight (SB 115).
“This bill will make sure that courts enforce waivers of liability and provide a greater degree of certainty to private space flight companies,” Uresti said. “The space tourism industry holds a lot of promise for the West Texas economy, and this bill should give it a big boost.”
While the measure would apply to any commercial space flight company in Texas, Uresti hopes it will further the development of Blue Origin, which is developing a vertical take-off and landing vehicle at its spaceport in Van Horn, Texas. Created by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin is already one of the largest taxpayers in Culberson County. The company hopes to begin sub-orbital journeys into space by 2012.
“For years we’ve been gazing at the skies from McDonald’s Observatory, and now West Texas will have a facility that will actually let people go there,” Uresti said. “I am excited about this project and the potential it holds for further economic development in this part of the state.”
Virginia in 2007, Florida in 2008, and New Mexico in 2010 have enacted simiular measures. The Texas legislature passed a similar measure in 2009 but the governor failed to sign it within the required time. If signed into law in 2011, Texas would become the fourth state to adopt a spaceflight liability and immunity law.