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Virgin Galactic’s Manned Spacecraft, “SpaceShip Two,” Crashes; One Dead

31 Oct 2014, 3:57 pm

spacechip_two_Steve_Jurvetson_Flickr
Photo credit: Steve Jurvetson/Flickr

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip Two, carrying two pilots, has crashed in Southern California’s desolate Mojave Desert. The company had been conducting another test flight of the spacecraft.

In response to the crash, Virgin Galactic released in a series of Twitter posts that read, “UPDATE: Virgin Galactic’s partner Scaled Composites conducted a powered test flight of #SpaceShipTwo earlier today. During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of SpaceShip Two. WK2 [White Knight Two — the plane that carries the passenger rocket] landed safely. Our first concern is the is the status of the the pilots, which is unknown at this time. We will work closely with all relevant authorities to determine the cause of this accident and provide updates ASAP.”

We now know, one of the two pilots on-board has been confirmed dead and another was seriously injured.

“The incident occurred over the Mojave Desert shortly after the space flight vehicle separated from WhiteKnightTwo, the vehicle that carried it aloft,” the FAA said in a statement.

The L.A. Times reports that at least one of the pilots was able to parachute out of the vehicle after the malfunction, and another pilot was also located near the scene. The pilots haven’t yet been identified.

Video from the L.A. ABC station, KABC, shows wreckage of the craft scattered on the parched ground of the Mojave. Virgin Galactic is the brain-child of billionaire Richard Branson, and he said — in a Twitter post — that head headed to the Mojave to be with his team.

Virgin Galactic is in the process of developing “affordable” space travel, that will be available to the masses. Hundreds of people have plunked $250,000 to take a ride in the hybrid rocket.

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