Governor Jan Brewer signs commercial space flight bill
Gov. Jan Brewer signed into a law a bill that opens the door for commercial spaceflight in the state of Arizona in a signing ceremony on Wednesday.
The spaceflight activities bill, known in the Arizona House of Representatives as House Bill 2163, allows companies to obtain waivers of liability for passengers on commercial spaceflights, in compliance with federal standards in the area. The bill describes potential risks of spaceflight to passengers and sets the terms and conditions of a waiver. HB 2163 was passed nearly unanimously by both houses of the state legislature.
Paragon Space Development Corporation, based in Tucson, plans to begin launching commercial spaceflights from Arizona and needed this legislation passed to bring its operations to the state.
“This legislation is critical to this mission and has great potential to spur economic growth and attract visitors to our great state for many years to come,” Brewer said.
Gov. Jan Brewer signs HB 2163 on June 18 during a signing ceremony at the Paragon Space Development Corporation. HB 2163 allows companies to move forward in launching commercial space travel from Arizona.
Brewer thanked Reps. Eddie Farnsworth (R-District 22) and Ethan Orr (R-District 9) for their efforts in getting the bill through the legislature. Brewer said H. 2163 eliminates unnecessary restrictions and is an example of Arizona being a business-friendly state.
“Too often we see governmental bureaucracy standing in the way of creative business concepts or making it difficult for pioneering enterprises,” Brewer said.
The signing ceremony took place inside Paragon’s offices in Tucson. Paragon created World View Enterprises with the purpose of sending customers in a capsule to the edge of space, according to Jane Poynter, president and chairwoman of Paragon.
World View plans to launch commercial spacecraft from a launch site in Page, Ariz. starting in 2016. A seat one of these flights will cost about $75,000 and each capsule can hold up to eight people, Poynter said.
Poynter was one of eight people who lived in the Biosphere 2 for two years in the early 1990s and co-founded Paragon while she was still inside the Biosphere.
“We’re really thrilled that the state is joining an elite group of states who are welcoming commercial spaceflight,” Poynter said. Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, California, Virginia and Florida have passed similar legislation.
HB 2163 is modeled after the legislation in that was passed in New Mexico and Texas, Orr said.
Orr, who sponsored the bill, said technological innovation often runs into problems with increasing liability, and insurance is difficult or, in the case of commercial spaceflight, impossible to obtain. Orr said he met with Farnsworth and other state legislators to begin crafting a law that would allow contracts on commercial spaceflight to have validity and this then allows Paragon, and any other commercial spaceflight companies that could come to Arizona, to get the liability insurance needed.
“Not only will we able to keep this company [Paragon] here, and keep these jobs here, but this company is currently expanding,” Orr said. “They’re bringing in new industry.”
Michael Varney, president and CEO of the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, praised the state legislature for helping Arizona business by passing HB 2163.
“It’s very reassuring to know that the laws in the state of Arizona can move equally quickly to join hand in hand with the speed of technology,” Varney said.