Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a spaceflight bill Thursday that shields companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin from legal liability if crew members or passengers are injured or killed during missions.
He Space Flight Entity Liability Bill, or CS/SB 1318It was one of 27 bills he signed a day after launching his campaign for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination during a Twitter event with his owner, Elon Musk, who is also the CEO of SpaceX.
The new law effectively protects SpaceX and other commercial space companies from lawsuits in the event someone on their rockets or capsules is seriously injured or killed.
The bill now requires crew members and passengers to acknowledge the risks of spaceflight by signing a waiver containing the following statement: “WARNING: Under Florida law, there is no liability for injury or death of a participant or crew in a spaceflight activity provided that by a spaceflight entity if such injury or death results from the spaceflight activity.”
Injuries can include damage to land, people, equipment, and animals, in addition to «the possibility that you act in a negligent manner that may contribute to your injury or death,» according to the bill.
A analysis of the bill by the Florida Senate found that it «has the potential to limit the cost of litigation for companies involved in spaceflight activities.»
Florida’s «Space Coast,» or the area around NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, has been a hot spot for commercial space activity, as companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin seek expand launch services for both the government and the private sector.
Aerospace activities contribute about $17.7 billion in revenue to the Florida economy, according to Space Florida, a government agency that aims to promote aerospace economic development throughout the state.
The space flight entity liability bill was sponsored by Republican Sen. Tom Wright and passed unanimously in the state Senate with little debate in the Florida House of Representatives.