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California vies for new space industry

By Mihir Zaveri

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Aug. 24 2013 3:19 p.m. MDT

Nelson said the company passed over Virginia, Florida, Oklahoma and California. XCOR expects the facility will create jobs and boost the local economy by millions of dollars. He said since California doesn't shield the company's supply chain and could not offer economic incentives, XCOR ruled the state out despite its talented workforce. The company will still have a smaller operation at Mojave and would consider doing more in the state if Knight's bill is enacted.

In April, New Mexico enacted a law shielding parts suppliers and manufacturers of space transport companies from liability as an incentive for Virgin Galactic and others to launch spaceships from Spaceport America, which the state had already spent more than $200 million financing.

At a California senate committee hearing in May, several senators expressed concern over shielding manufacturers and suppliers from lawsuits, saying customers should assume the equipment functions correctly and should have redress if it doesn't.

The bill's opponents say protection against liability is unnecessary because it would be outweighed by California's historical ties to the aerospace industry and its well-educated workforce. Knight said he is trying to work out a compromise with the bill's opponents by January.

Both supporters and opponents of Knight's bill agreed developments in the space industry — possibilities include mining asteroids or placing a human colony on Mars — present exciting, uncharted possibilities.

"Everybody would like to see a big goal that got the whole country behind like we did when we went to the moon. That was an exciting time, those people who remember it would like to see that again," Allen said.

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