An in-flight problem caused Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane to crash in Mojave, CA, today. The vehicle "suffered a serious anomaly," according to the company. Two pilots were aboard the test flight, and their current status was reported by California Highway Patrol. At least one is dead and another is injured, said CHP. Tweets describe an explosion that resulted in debris over the Mojave Desert. An unmanned NASA rocket also exploded due to a catastrophic anomaly earlier this week.
The SpaceShipTwo is a six-passenger plus two-pilot plane designed for commercial spaceflight. The flight itself is intended to last about an hour and a half. SpaceShipTwo will be able to reach approximately 50,000 feet of altitude, free fall for a few seconds, then accelerate via a hybrid rocket motor. At this point, the spacecraft travels at Mach 3.5, more than three times the speed of sound. When it reaches peak altitude, passengers can float in zero gravity for about four to five minutes.
This story is still developing, and we'll provide updates as information about the cause of the accident and status of the two aboard comes in.
During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of SpaceShipTwo. WK2 landed safely. (2 of 4)— Virgin Galactic (@virgingalactic) October 31, 2014
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