Florida moves to shield space companies from lawsuits
A measure now before Gov. Ron DeSantis would extend liability protections to private aerospace companies if crew members are injured or killed in spaceflights.
The legislation (SB 1318) was among 62 bills DeSantis received Tuesday. He has until May 31 to act on the proposal that would expand current law providing liability protections for injuries or deaths of spaceflight participants who are not considered crew members.
The current protections apply when those people have signed statements acknowledging risks.
With the state seeing growth in private launches, the bill would cover crew members who are employees or contractors of private companies.
Senate bill sponsor Tom Wright, a New Smyrna Beach Republican who chairs the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs, Space and Domestic Security Committee, said earlier this year the proposal “would adapt Florida law to address the evolution of space flight, allowing company employees of SpaceX, Boeing, Blue Origin and so forth to fly to space under this.”
The law doesn’t cover ground crew members or change workers’ compensation rules.
The measure isn’t the only legislation now on DeSantis’ desk that has a tie to the space industry.
A series of road designations in a Department of Transportation bill (HB 21) includes the bridge on State Road 3 over the Canaveral Barge Canal in Brevard County being dedicated to Christa McAuliffe, the New Hampshire teacher killed in 1986 on the space shuttle Challenger.
The proposal would also name the new NASA Causeway Bridge on State Road 405 over the Indian River in Brevard County after astronaut Dr. Sally Ride.
The road bill also designates a stretch of Cortez Boulevard in Hernando County for the late conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh and a portion of S.W. 22nd Avenue in Miami-Dade County to Elsa Patton, known as “Mama Elsa,” the mother of The Real Housewives of Miami cast member Marysol Patton.