(Newsdesk) Media report one person died and another was injured this morning when Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo test flight crashed over the Mojave Desert shortly after SpaceShipTwo separated from WhiteKnightTwo.
In a company statement Virgin wrote: “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. Our first concern is the status of the pilots, which is unknown at this time. We will work closely with the relevant authorities to determine the cause of the accident and provide updates as soon as we are able to do so.”
SpaceShipTwo made its last powered test flight Jan. 10. In May, the company announced it was switching the fuel used in the vehicle’s hybrid rocket motor, hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene, a form of rubber, to a polyamide-based plastic.
This is the second blow in a short time to private Space efforts. A few days ago Planetary Resources, headed by a former NASA engineer and backed by Google and more than $1.5 million in a 2013 Kickstarter campaign lost a hired test rocket. The company hopes to mine near Earth asteroids.
Virgin plans to take tourists on a high altitude experience from Spaceport America in New Mexico. The project has suffered repeated delays. In a recent statement a spokeswoman for the Spaceport said, "When I read in the papers and I hear, 'do we want to continue to invest, it's going to be a while before (Virgin Galactic) is operational.' Well, let me tell you what, you're in it [...] Spaceport America belongs to the people of New Mexico, not Sir Richard Branson or Virgin Galactic. The responsibility is ours to make Spaceport America a success."
Between costly delays, increasing investor impatience and this morning's accident, question is if the budding Virgin Galactic can survive.
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