A rocket lawyer has reviewed a document that lays out what could happen if SpaceX launches a rocket with an uncrewed payload to the International Space Station, and how to sue if the company is found liable.
The document, entitled “Definitions and Rules of Construction,” was filed by a law firm representing Elon Musk, the entrepreneur who co-founded SpaceX.
The document is intended to help lawyers navigate a complex legal landscape when a rocket carrying a payload of any kind, including astronauts, goes up into space, said Michael B. Smith, the law firm’s chief counsel and the author of the book “Rocket Law.”
The document lays out four “basic principles” that must be followed when the launch of a rocket is contemplated, Smith said in a statement emailed to the Associated Press.
The law firm also provides guidance for lawyers trying to decide how to go about seeking a verdict in a lawsuit if the rocket goes up.
The launch could be delayed, the launch could end up with a failure, or the launch might be a success, Smith explained.
“The document contains a detailed and concise outline of all the possible outcomes,” Smith said.
Smith said he was looking forward to working with his client in a class action lawsuit against SpaceX.
If the company has a liability claim, he said he would work to provide the court with documents detailing how the company could be found liable for damages, as well as a detailed summary of how SpaceX’s launch system worked.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched to the space station in May from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
SpaceX said in December that the launch was successfully completed and the first stage was safely back on Earth.
Musk tweeted that he was “delighted” that the rocket was in space.
The rocket was supposed to bring the first man to the orbiting outpost, but the crew was left stranded after SpaceX failed to launch its Falcon 9 second stage at the proper time, leading to a catastrophic failure that killed five people.
SpaceX has said that the failure was caused by a failure of the Falcon 9 first stage, which is used to launch satellites into orbit.
The second stage of the rocket that was supposed in orbit was damaged in the explosion, and the spacecraft that was meant to bring astronauts back to Earth failed to do so.
The company has blamed “external factors” for the failure, and has blamed the explosion on the launch system’s faulty helium-filled rocket boosters, which are supposed to be used to lift the satellites into space.
The company has said the boosters were designed to withstand the explosion.
SpaceX is facing a lawsuit in New York state by the family of John Glenn, who was the first American to walk on the moon.
The family’s lawyer is seeking unspecified damages from SpaceX, which has also been sued in California, New York and Texas.
The case against SpaceX is in its preliminary stages, but Musk’s lawyer has said he expects it to reach trial by the end of this year.