Today a test flight of Virgin Galactic’s VSS Enterprise spaceplane ended in tragedy with a crash in the Mojave desert, with the loss of one of two .
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This morning the Virgin Galactic’s VSS Enterprise – the first of their ‘Spaceship Two’ sub-orbital spaceplanes – suffered a major malfunction during a test flight over the Mojave Desert in California. The company has issued the following statement.
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 the vehicle. The WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft landed safely. Our first concern is with crew and their families. We will work closely with relevant authorities to determine the cause of this accident and provide updates as soon as we are able to do so.
VSS Enterprise explodes during flight (AP)
According to CNN the problem started just two minutes after the rocket-powered VSS Enterprise was released from the WhiteKnightTwo jet carrier at 45,000 feet. CNN is also reporting that one of the pilots was killed in the accident and one was injured and is currently in serious condition. There is currently no indication what caused the crash, but this was the first test flight of a new fuel mixture. A "Go Team" from the NTSB is being dispatched to investigate the incident.
Clip from Virgin Galactic press conference (via CNN)
Today’s test was the fourth rocket-powered test flight for the VSS Enterprise, which has also had dozens of other test flights attached to the WhiteKnightTwo and dozens of unpowered glide tests as well.
It was almost five years ago TrekMovie first reported on the VSS Enterprise after the ship was christened by Virgin Galactic in acknowledgement of fictional starships from Star Trek and other real world vessels to bear that name. The goal was to have the VSS Enterprise be the first private space ship to take tourists into space via sub-orbital flights costing $250,000 per passenger.
Richard Branson at the christening of the VSS Enterprise – December 2009 (LA Times)
Branson acknowledged the crash on Twitter today and announced he will be
Thoughts with all @virgingalactic & Scaled, thanks for all your messages of support. I'm flying to Mojave immediately to be with the team.
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) October 31, 2014
The thoughts and prayers of TrekMovie are with the family and friends of the Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites teams.