Space tourism's trade organisation, the Personal Spaceflight Federation, is seeking to extend across several US states new legislation that Virginia's state legislature is in the process of approving. This is a spaceflight liability and immunity act that gives operators immunity from claims if injury or death of a tourist results from the "inherent risks of spaceflight activity".
The PSF, whose members include Virgin Galactic and Space Adventures, wants to see this become law in California, Florida, Oklahoma and Texas - all states that are locations for commercial spaceports. "We are planning for the day we are in court. We need the right legislation and the right insurance," says PSF chairman and Virgin Galactic chief operating officer Alex Tai.
Under US federal legislation, because suborbital vehicles - unlike airliners - are not government certificated, passengers travel under informed consent. But the industry fears a wealthy relative of a suborbital or orbital space tourist who is injured or killed in a vehicle accident will sue the service provider anyway.