United States officials are investigating after Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo crashed six minutes after being deployed from its ‘mothership’ in the Mojave Desert, killing the co-pilot and seriously injuring the pilot.
It was the first powered test flight since January for SpaceShipTwo and the crash occurred due to a “serious anomaly”, which hasn’t yet been further elaborated by Virgin Galactic. Reports suggests that SpaceShipTwo may have been trialling a new type of fuel and engine system.
The ‘mothership’ carrying SpaceShipTwo managed to land safely after deployment.
The Virgin Galactic space flight program is the brainchild of billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Aabar Investments PJS of Abu Dhabi. The program gives customers the opportunity to fly on board a space craft, which is released at 45,000ft and then propelled 100km toward space by rockets, which gives passengers a bird’s eye view of the earth with the dark backdrop of space.
Earlier in the day, Richard Branson posted on Twitter, “Thoughts with all Virgin Galactic & Scaled, thanks for all your messages of support. I’m flying to Mojave immediately to be with the team.”
At $250,000 a pop, the program has secured over $80million in deposits from 700 people, including the likes of Stephen Hawking, Justin Bieber, Ashton Kutcher and Russell Brand.