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New space race ignites among U.S. states, with California leading the way

Man hasn't set foot on the moon since the 1970's and NASA has officially shut down its space shuttle program, but that does not mean that the space race is over. The Washington Post reported on August 24 that several U.S. states are working towards providing incentives to companies who have plans to transport people to space.

A model of a Virgin Galatic spacecraft is seen in this photo. Virgin Galactic is one of the many space tourism companies hoping to make huge profits from the growing industry.
Wikimedia Commons

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is probably the most well known company in the space tourism industry, but several other companies are looking to make their presence known as well. Elon Musk's SpaceX is already transporting cargo to the International Space Station and Bigelow Aerospace is currently designing inflatable space stations for research.

Space tourism companies need supplies and a place to manufacture the ships that will voyage out of the Earth's atmosphere. California lawmakers are currently pushing for legislation that will provide incentives to the space companies and have already passed a law which protects space tourism companies from liability lawsuits. Legislators are currently debating a similar bill that would protect manufacturers and parts suppliers from liability claims.

California Republican Senator Steve Knight introduced both bills and has said that is hoped the bills will encourage investment into the "fledgling" industry that is currently worth more than $200 billion. The most recent legislation is facing opposition from several lawmakers who believe that the state of California should be relaxing safety standards, but space tourism companies say that the liability protection is necessary if the state wants to attract and retain business. However, both supporters and opponents to the bill can agree one thing: developments in the space industry, ranging from mining asteroids to human colonies on Mars, present exciting and unprecedented opportunities into unchartered territory.

Other states are attempting to get in on the space tourism action as well. New Mexico passed legislation in April which protects manufacturers and parts suppliers of space transport companies from liability claims in an attempt to encourage companies to launch spaceships from Spaceport America. States that can offer incentives stand a much higher chance of potential to profit from the space tourism industry.