Spaceport ups pressure on lawmakers

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Associated Press

Posted on November 16, 2012 at 1:30 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Spaceport America officials are increasing pressure on lawmakers to pass broad liability protections, with the head of Virgin Galactic hinting it could take its space tourism business elsewhere if lawmakers again reject their request.

Virgin Galactic CEO George Whiteside says the legislature's failure to pass the law next year could force his company to rethink plans to base its business at Spaceport America. Virgin Galactic signed an agreement to become the $209 million Spaceport's anchor tenant. But taxpayers paid for development of the Spaceport and Virgin has yet to move in or pay rent.

And it is unclear when the company will begin its $200,000-per person space flights.

Whiteside made the comments at a press conference to launch a new coalition that will lobby for the law to protect parts suppliers from litigation. Spacecraft are currently protected.

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