3689624045?profile=originalI just thought I would put a very small and short Thank You and send my Sympathies to the crew, family and friends of the Virgin Galactic test flight that crashed earlier today, killing the co-pilot and injuring the pilot. I know I can not do much but say thanks to you publicly.

  I know that this site is not directly related to space flight (commercial or otherwise) but I do feel that anyone who is part of pushing the boundaries of flight and willing to put their lives on the line deserves our admiration and awe.

Without people like these, who are actively pushing the limit we would not have communities such as this one who in our own small way follow their example.

Enough said, below is an extract from ABC Online...


Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo: Co-pilot killed, pilot injured in test flight crash in California

Updated 26 minutes agoSat 1 Nov 2014, 8:50am

United States officials are investigating the crash of a Virgin Galactic spaceship in the Mojave Desert in California, which has killed one pilot and injured another.

SpaceShipTwo, a suborbital passenger spaceship being developed by billionaire Richard Branson's company, was on its 55th test flight and had reportedly been trialling a new fuel.

A witness said it exploded soon after it detached from a mothership after leaving the Mojave Air and Space Port on Friday.

The co-pilot of the spaceship was killed in the crash, while the pilot, who ejected, was injured, Kern County Sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt said.

The pilot was found at the scene and taken to a local hospital with "moderate to major" injuries, he said.


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  • RIP

  • Gary...we are in agreement. My personal opinion is test and retest, unmanned, until reliability is established. Then test and retest again manned. THEN finally start carrying passengers. I wonder if this accident will hurt Virgin Galactic's bottom-line with people rethinking that trip into near-space?

  • Really just the testing and debugging phase I was talking about, in this case trying the new plasticized fuel.

    Not against manned flight just where a computer can do it, there are a lot of times you ought to use the computer.

    This was one of them.

    You manage risks as best you can, testing planes, rockets, etc was always incredibly dangerous and now we have very good computers and control systems.

    Why use people when certainly more expendable automated systems can do the job.

    "Oops" is a lot easier to handle when no one is on board.

    It is a new time and this needs to be reevaluated in light of where we are now.

  • While I do believe that testing a new fuel/engine combo like this could have been done via remote operation, the entire point of the aircraft is to carry paying passengers on sub-orbital hops. Eventually these systems WILL have people on-board. 

  • Good Point Eugene,

    A very tragic event, but maybe it can at least serve as a notice, that this would actually have been much safer as an automated or remotely controlled flight given our current capabilities.

    I am sure there is no technical reason at all this couldn't have been done automated or remote with no risk to anyone.

    I hope that the FAA takes note of the fact that it's reticence and denial might actually cost human lives.

    However I also do not know for certain that a remote flight was beyond consideration.

    In either case it certainly points out the necessity for future flights of this precariousness to be piloted automatically or remotely, we realistically just don't need to risk lives to do this anymore.

    Best Regards,


  • This tragedy would not have happen, had the test flight been performed as unmanned. However Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic under no circumstances would be given COA/permits to fly such mission in the US air space. I think that the SpaceShipTwo catastrophe is the turning point explicitly saying that the current FAA regulations are claiming the lives. There would be no casualties had the disintegrated plane was tested in UAV mode, as most of the test space aircraft.

  • I do believe that private aerospace is the future...be that in the field of unmanned aerial systems, or trans-orbital flights. Sympathies to the family of the pilot who lost his life in the brave pursuit of that future.

  • My condolences and hopes go with Virgin Galactic. Being pioneers in the space business is where we need to understand how these things happen. We lost a lot of sailors when we began exploring our planet. We will surely have to accept losses and continue on as we learn to explore space.

    I do believe NASA has the wrong approach to space travel and we are going to have to accept the risk involved to develop and become a space faring people.

    There certainly are risk and I for one believe we need to take the risk. 

  • Very sad news.

    The test flight looks like it had a number of "firsts", including a new rocket engine.

    "SpaceShipTwo was testing a new plastic-based rocket fuel for the first time Friday. An eyewitness told The Daily Beast that the spacecraft exploded shortly after the rocket motor was ignited. The spaceship had not flown a powered flight in about nine months because engineers were switching out its original engine that used rubber-based rocket fuel for the new engine, which used plastic-based fuel.

    Scaled Composites, which built the spacecraft, had experienced some problems with the new rocket, which until Friday had only been tested on the ground. While the new motor holds much promise of greatly increased performance, there were some serious risks associated with the new rocket—as Friday’s incident proved."


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