DeSantis Signs Bill Shielding Musk’s SpaceX From ‘Spaceflight Entity Liability’
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) signed a bill regarding spaceflight on Thursday just one day after he announced his presidential run in a glitch-filled interview with Elon Musk on Twitter Spaces.
DeSantis signed into law CS/SB 1318 – Spaceflight Entity Liability along with 27 other bills. The law exempts “spaceflight entity from liability for injury to or death of a crew resulting from spaceflight activities under certain circumstances.” The measure also requires “a spaceflight entity to have a crew sign a specified warning statement.”
Florida is a known launching point for SpaceX aircrafts, and the new law could potentially shield Musk and other space flight companies from being sued for accidents that injure or kill crew members.
The law specifies a “spaceflight entity” as a “public or private entity holding a United States Federal Aviation Administration launch, reentry, operator, or launch site license for spaceflight activities or which is otherwise authorized by the United States Government to conduct spaceflight activities.”
DeSantis is currently locked in an ongoing feud with Disney, after he revoked Disney’s control of Reedy Creek in February as punishment for the company’s opposition to anti-LGBTQ legislation championed by the governor. “We’re not going to have a corporation controlling its own government,” DeSantis, ironically but not surprisingly, declared at the time. “So the state’s going to have a board to run it. So Disney will not have self-governing status anymore.”
DeSantis reportedly accepted multiple donations from Disney, totaling $100,000 between 2019 and 2021. Disney was also one of the sponsors of his gubernatorial inauguration earlier this year.
Last month, SpaceX’s privately owned spaceport in South Texas launched the most powerful rocket ever built before the spacecraft exploded over the Gulf of Mexico. The explosion reportedly hurled chunks of concrete and metal thousands of feet away into sensitive habitat, and sparked a 3.5-acre fire on state park lands near the launch site. Environmental groups and cultural-heritage nonprofits are suing the Federal Aviation Administration in federal court, arguing that the agency failed to conduct a comprehensive environmental review.