You might have missed the arrival of the future, but Wikipedia now reports matter-of-factly that Spaceport America “is a spaceport located in” a desert basin in New Mexico. (The only surprising fact is that the nearest town is called “Truth or Consequences.”) This month, a company called “Virgin Galactic,” a member of the Virgin Group that plans to provide sub-orbital spaceflights to “space tourists,” is scheduled to make its first monthly rent payment on the $209 million facility. With Virgin as its anchor tenant, the State of New Mexico hopes to develop the facility as a hub for the private space travel industry.
Virgin has publicly announced, however, that its participation is contingent on the success of proposed New Mexico legislation, the “Space Flight Informed Consent Act,” which would (among other things) grant immunity to “space flight entities” from certain terrestrial liabilities. Similar measures have already been adopted by Colorado, Florida and the Klingons. But the New Mexico bill has been strongly opposed by the New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association, and the resulting impasse threatened to halt the state’s rise as an interstellar power.
The problem has now been solved, and the solution is the thing that surrounds us and penetrates us and binds the galaxy together: an insurance mandate. Under an agreement reached last week among Virgin, the trial lawyers and Democrats in the New Mexico Legislature, an amended bill will make $1 million in liability insurance a condition for the statutory immunity. In a press conference conducted on January 22, the leaders of both houses declared that all systems are now go.
Per assecuratio ad astra, baby!