The Governor of New Mexico has signed a bill extending liability waivers for spaceflight companies in the state.

The bill allows commercial spaceflight companies to launch without fear of excessive damages awarded in case of a disaster. Should a mishap occur, New Mexicans cannot bring a lawsuit against the company.

Commercial spaceflight companies commonly cite such exemptions as key to finding a base of operations.

The bill primarily affects suborbital spaceflight company Virgin Galactic, which plans to launch suborbital tourism flights using SpaceShipTwo, a new crewed suborbital spacecraft. To lure the company, the state built a $210 million facility outside the remote town of Truth or Consequences.

"The legislature acted to promote economic development and the future of the industry in the state," says George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic, who said the company "would also like to express its gratitude to the grassroots coalition of citizens and local organisations that worked so hard on this bill and should be recognised for their efforts".

SpaceShipTwo has recently begun glide tests after a long period of modification, which saw the initial flight engine installed. The first propulsion test is likely due shortly.

Source: Flight International