Virgin Galactic spaceship crashes with two crew members in tow

Virgin Galactic spaceship crashes with two crew members in tow

Richard Branson determined to find the cause

Over the weekend, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic – the space tourism venture part-owned by Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments – crashed during a test flight, with Mr. Branson vowing to find out the cause of the fatal accident

The terrible crash happened on Friday at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California during a test flight, killing one crew member and seriously injuring the other. 

"We owe it to our pilots to find out exactly what went wrong," Richard Branson said during a news conference in Mojave. "If we can overcome it, we will make absolutely certain that the dream lives on," he said.

The crash of the spaceship – undergoing its first powered test flight since January over the Mojave Desert – also came days after another private space company, Orbital Sciences Corp, lost a rocket in an explosion moments after it took off in Virginia – making it much harder for the commercial space launch industry to lift off. 

The pilot of the plane Peter Siebold ejected himself and parachuted to the ground, surviving with serious injuries, Kern County Sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt stated, while the co-pilot of the spaceship, Michael Alsbury, was sadly killed in the crash. 

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the crash occurred shortly after the aircraft, dubbed SpaceShipTwo, separated from the jetcraft that carried it up into the air for its high-altitude take-off. 

George Whitesides, chief executive of Virgin Galactic, said "Space is hard, and today was a tough day. We are going to be supporting the investigation as we figure out what happened today, and we're going to get through it."

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