The U.S. House of Representatives has passed an extension of the government’s authority to indemnify launch services companies from third party claims for certain amounts of money resulting from launch vehicle accidents.
The current authority expires Dec. 31, 2012. H.R. 6586 was not controversial, and it extends for two years the provisions of a 1988 law. The main argument for the bill is that the U.S. launch services industry needs a level playing field in order to successfully compete with other countries that indemnify their companies.
“I commend the House’s swift action today to extend commonsense space liability provisions for entrepreneurs engaging in commercial space launch activities that will ensure continued robust innovation in the commercial space sector,” said Congressman Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in a statement. “Our area is a leader in the commercial space industry in California and the country, which is why I was pleased to co-author this important bill and bring this legislation to the floor for a vote. This legislation will help innovative commercial space companies – like those located right here in Eastern Kern and the Antelope Valley – prosper and create new American jobs that will keep our country on the cutting edge of space travel.”
Stuart Witt, CEO and general manager of the Mojave Air and Space Port and Chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation said, “The House of Representatives took an important step today to protect a core American industry that provides high-tech jobs across the country. This extension of a provision expiring at the end of the year will allow American space launch companies to compete on the world market and ensure that we maintain the robust launch industry necessary for national security and economic growth.
Virgin Galactic president George Whitesides thanked McCarthy and the co-sponsors of this bill for their efforts to strengthen U.S. competitiveness in the worldwide launch market, and support the growing American commercial space industry.