Warning to Floridian: If any of the latest SpaceX rockets fall into your yard, contact the police.
Under a bill passed by lawmakers on Monday, Floridians face the charge of not overturning some of the rockets and other man-made space debris that fall into their property or are washed away on their beaches. Probably.
If you find an object that looks “reasonable” like a piece of grass space and don’t report it to the police, you may be subject to a new one misdemeanor, a fine of up to $ 1,000, and compensation to the owner. there is. part.
The bill is currently heading to Governor Rondesantis’ desk with the support of SpaceX, run by founder and CEO Elon Musk. The company has been launched from Cape Canaveral for many years. On Friday, the Falcon 9 rocket carried four astronauts from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station.
NASA rockets and shuttles have exploded from Florida for decades, but changes in the nature of spaceflight have made it more important to recover fallen parts, SpaceX lawmakers and lobbyists said. I am.
SpaceX relies heavily on parts and parts recall as it reuses rockets and other parts to significantly reduce space flight costs. In addition, private companies such as SpaceX are taking over various spaceflight operations from NASA, so companies don’t want to lose valuable design secrets.
SpaceX lobbyist Jeff Sharkey told the US congressional committee last month that he was afraid that the company would lose its intellectual property to China.
“This bill, which seems trivial, is very important,” Sharkey said.
Rep. Tyler Sirois of R-Merritt Island in the area, including Cape Canaveral, said the recovery of spacecraft parts was “an increasingly common problem in Florida.”
“In my district, when the Challenger was lost, orbiter debris was washed away on our beach,” he told lawmakers last month.
He also pointed out the incident of a fisherman involving two red parachutes and a hatch door used by SpaceX 32 miles off Daytona Beach last year. (The fisherman reported it to SpaceX.)
According to Shirois, the bill is not aimed at recovering nuts and bolts, but at items that are clearly marked as belonging to a spacecraft.
And it’s especially focused on preventing people from reselling items. He quoted reports from people trying to sell debris from the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster on eBay. The sale of these goods is illegal under federal law. In 2000, a man in Ohio pleaded guilty to theft of government property for attempting to resell part of the Space Shuttle Challenger, 14 years after the explosion off the coast of Florida.
“What we don’t want is that it will eventually be put up for sale or in the hands of our competitors,” Shirois said. “We want these materials to be returned to the people who released them.”
On Monday, the Senate unanimously resolved to send the bill to DeSantis’ desk, where it would be law unless he refused. The bill will come into effect on July 1.
Florida will be the first state to adopt a law requiring people to report such items to police, Shirois said.
under House Bill 221, Anyone who finds debris that is “reasonably identifiable as a space flight asset” must report the description and location to local police.
The bill defines “space flight assets” as including “boarding and non-boarding capsules, rockets, parachutes, and other landing aids, and accessories attached to the launcher during launch, orbit, or re-entry.” I am.
Upon contact, police must make “reasonable efforts” to identify the owner of the part and notify it “quickly”. The bill is privately owned by the owner if police believe there is an “emergency”, that is, if the part indicates an “imminent danger to public safety” or if the part is in danger of being damaged or destroyed. Allows you to enter the property and retrieve the parts.
The person who finds the part cannot store it, sell it, or refuse to hand it over to the police. If so, they may be prosecuted for new misdemeanors: “misappropriation of space flight assets.”
The bill passed the committee, but some lawmakers raised questions.
“We are now in a very strange situation where something has fallen into the backyard and I am obliged to return it. And if I keep it, I am being charged with a crime. “Senator Jason Pizzo of D-Miami said at a committee meeting. “It’s a very new and novel field.”
Former prosecutor Pizzo has expressed another concern about the bill. Stealing something worth more than $ 750 is considered a three-time felony, a major theft, in Florida. If the space portion is worth more than $ 750, would the person be subject not only to a large-scale theft, but also to the misdemeanor of not submitting it?
Mr Shirois said these decisions were up to local prosecutors.
Ultimately, he said the bill was about making Florida more friendly to aerospace companies, and many Florida people hadn’t seen it subject to the new law.
“Floridians have aerospace in their blood, which is part of their spirit in the state,” he said. “I think people recognize the obligation to return these items to their owners.”