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ABA Forum on Air and Space Law: Legislative Update Conference – Managing Launch Risks: A Comparative Look

at 14:04 | Blogcast Space Law | Comments Off on ABA Forum on Air and Space Law: Legislative Update Conference – Managing Launch Risks: A Comparative Look


The next panel of the day was titled Managing Launch Risks: A Comparative Look and included:

Moderator: Franceska Schroeder, Principal, Fish and Richardson
Panelists: Patricia Hynes, Director, New Mexico Space Grant Consortium; Laura Montgomery, Senior Attorney for Commercial Space Transportation, FAA; Clay Mowry, President Arianespace, Inc.; Tom Tshudy, Vice President and General Counsel, International Launch Services, Inc.

Key points:
– Montgomery – FAA’s role is to manage safety and financial risks; Safety: safety of the public and people on board spacecraft as of 2015; financial front: insurance, waivers of liability, and indemnification for launch providers up to a point; this is calculated by using maximum probable loss to determine the amount of insurance a launch service should buy; FAA also allows for cross waivers of liability between launch service provider, customers (these are payload operators not space flight participants), and the government; there is a reason for the distinction between space flight participants and passengers, participants are taking on risk; moratorium on regulation of SFP ends in 2015; no cross waiver between SFP and launch operators (this is different from the non-human space flight operators); state legislation does a variety of things

– Mowry: Arianespace is a French company that is a launch service provider that answers to CNES as France is the launching state; CNES was formed under French law which governs launch insurance and indemnification; safety is taken very seriously at launch site; claims up to about €60 million receive indemnification from France and that provision has no sunset provision as does the US law; insurance: responsibility for payload begins when launch system begins to leave the launch pad and lasts until payload is let go in orbit, during launch phase there is launch insurance to cover a catastrophic event; payload operators can get this insurance on the market or can wrap it into launch contract; continuation of US indemnification is important to all launch providers as it helps to stabilize the insurance market; Soyuz is being flown out of French Guiana, but the ones that are being launched out of French Guiana are not set up to launch humans and would require modification; human space flight is well in the future for Arianespace

-Tshudy: ILS sells launches on the Russian Proton rocket out of Kazakhstan; need to make launches affordable and the liability regime that governments support is key in making this work; third party liability insurance also helps to reduce risk as well as cross waivers of liability; ILS not pursuing human space flight; US system of indemnification with one year extensions makes it difficult for launch service providers to plan

– Hynes: commercial space transportation community is a growth community; industry is moving to a consumer space industry; new platforms take lots of time to develop and includes risk as well as reward; above airspace is opportunity; space is a new transportation that is evolving with a bevy of legal issues that create opportunities for lawyers; New Mexico informed consent regulation: extends down to manufacturer of vehicle, requires providers to show certificate of insurance, sunsets in 2021; informed consent law is very important in keeping anchor tenant, Virgin Galactic, at Spaceport America