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Virgin Galactic tourism rocket SpaceShipTwo explodes over Mojave Desert in California, killing Michael Tyner Alsbury, 39, and majorly injuring Peter Siebold, 43
Modified Date:Thu, 11/13/2014 - 5:53am
Accident Date:Friday, October 31, 2014
SpaceShipTwo, which is typically flown by two pilots, was designed to provide a suborbital thrill ride into space before it returns to Earth as a glider.
The two-hour suborbital flight was to include five minutes of weightlessness. But after the ship’s crash on Friday, those prospective passengers may be thinking twice about spaceflight.
So the company switched engines to one burning a form of nylon plastic grains, made by Scaled Composites, which also builds SpaceShipTwo for Virgin. In July, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides was confident the new motor would do the job.
"This will be the first time we have been in the lead of a space launch (accident) that involved persons onboard," said Hart, noting that the NTSB did participate in investigations of the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disasters.
Federal investigators today revealed that one of the two pilots of the Virgin Galactic crash last month was able to survive the ordeal because he was still strapped in his seat as the plane broke apart in midair.
The ultimate goal of Virgin Galactic co-owner Richard Branson is to create an industry that can move people around the globe in a fraction of the time it takes passenger jets, by rocketing them into space and back down.
The surviving pilot of the Virgin Galactic spaceship that tore apart over the Mojave Desert was thrown clear of the disintegrating craft and did not know his co-pilot had prematurely unlocked the re-entry braking system, federal investigators said Wednesday.
The co-pilot, Michael Alsbury, evidently unlocked the booms prematurely, when the craft was moving relatively slowly and in relatively thick air, investigators say.
SpaceShipTwo, a Virgin Galactic space tourism rocket, exploded Friday after taking off on a test flight, killing one person aboard and seriously injuring another. Wreckage was scattered across Southern California's Mojave Desert. One person parachuted out of the craft. A witness said the rocket exploded after a plane designed to take it to a higher altitude released SpaceShiptTwo, and the craft ignited its rocket motor. This was north of Mojave Air and Space Port, where the test flight originated, which is about 120 miles north of downtown Los Angeles. Check back for updates!
Michael Tyner Alsbury
County:Kern County, CA