That didn’t take long. Last week the New Mexico Legislature began its 2013 session, with a revision to the state’s existing commercial spaceflight liability indemnification legislation a top priority. Backers of the state’s $209-million commercial spaceport, Spaceport America, were concerned that without a revision of the law, expanding it to include suppliers and other companies involved in spaceflight operations, the spaceport’s primary tenant, Virgin Galactic, might pull up stakes.
It looks like, though, that a deal has been reached. State legislators said that a compromise has been worked out between Virgin Galactic and the state trial lawyers association, which had opposed previous efforts to amend the law. A revised bill will be introduced in the legislature as soon as today. The specifics of the revised bill haven’t been formally released, but it appears that it will extend indemnification to suppliers, although add a requirement that all companies carry at least $1 million in liability insurance in order to be protected. Virgin Galactic president and CEO George Whitesides told the Santa Fe New Mexico that he supported the compromise, which he said would give companies similar protections as those that already exist in other states.