Legislation that would extend liability indemnification to suppliers of vehicles operating from Spaceport America is now awaiting the signature of the governor of New Mexico. On Monday the New Mexico House passed unanimous a bill that previously passed in the state Senate. The bill, long sought by state officials and Virgin Galactic alike, would extend liability indemnification protections to suppliers of vehicles operating from the spaceport, instead of the just the vehicle operators themselves. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, who advocated for the bill, is expected to sign it.
In response to budget sequestration, NASA is pulling back on conference participation and other travel. In a memo issued Wednesday, NASA administrator Charles Bolden issued new guidelines on training, hiring, and travel in light of sequestration. Attendance at conferences within the US is limited to those cases where the event “is essential and/or necessary”, with no more than 50 NASA civil service and contractor employees participating. Singled out in the memo are the National Space Symposium and the Goddard Memorial Symposium and Dinner as examples of cases where NASA-funded participation is not allowed; Bolden said in the memo that neither he nor deputy administrator Lori Garver will be at the National Space Symposium in Colorado next month. In addition, participation in foreign conferences is prohibited.
The next head of the French space agency CNES is likely to be a familiar face to the commercial space industry. Space News reports Jean-Yves Le Gall, chairman and CEO of launch services company Arianespace, “is all but certain” to be picked as the next head of CNES in the new few weeks. The current president of CNES, Yannick d’Escatha, will formally retire on March 18.
The former president of the Canadian Space Agency and Canada’s first man in space won’t be seeking higher office any time soon. Marc Garneau announced Wednesday that he will no longer seek the leadership of the Liberal Party, which would have put him in line to become prime minister if the party took power in a future election. Garneau said he made the decision after polling indicated another candidate, Justin Trudeau, had an overwhelming lead.