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Va. lawmakers pass spaceflight immunity bill


RICHMOND, Va.--Virginia's Legislature gave final approval Wednesday to legislation dealing with spaceflight liability during commercial space tourist flights.

The Virginia State Assembly's House of Delegates passed 99-0 the Spaceflight Liability & Immunity Act. The measure would provide commercial space flight operators with immunity from liability as long as the participants have signed a waiver warning them of the danger. The bill is expected to become law by July and expire in July 2013.

The spaceflight participant liability waiver, as stated in the bill, is to be signed by each participant and warns that under Virginia law, there is "no civil liability for bodily injury, including death, emotional injury, or property damage sustained by a participant in spaceflight activities provided by a spaceflight entity if such injury or damage results from the risks of the spaceflight activity." The waiver also states that each spaceflight participant must give his or her "informed consent" after receiving a description of the risks of spaceflight activities. These risks, says the waiver, include, but are not limited to: "risks of bodily injury, including death, emotional injury, and property damage."

Virginia is home to the Wallops Flight Facility, an operational installation for suborbital and orbital flight projects owned by the National Aeronautics & Space Administration that is located on Virginia's Eastern Shore adjacent to Chincoteague Island.