— Jonathon M. Seidl (@jonseidl) October 31, 2014
Early reports are that one pilot died and the other sustained major injuries, in this breaking story. “Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo crashed after it had an “in-flight anomaly” during testing Friday, according to a Mojave Air and Space Port spokesperson,” the L.A. Times reported a half hour ago:
A statement from Virgin Galactic said its partner Scaled Composites conducted the test flight Friday, during which a “serious anomaly” led to the “loss of the vehicle.”
This was the company’s first rocket-powered test flight in nine months. In January, SpaceShipTwo reached 71,000 feet – its highest altitude so far.
Virgin Galactic has conducted testing for the spacecraft in the Mojave Desert at Mojave Air and Space Port, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles.
British billionaire Richard Branson’s commercial space venture in May announced an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration that helped clear the path to send paying customers on a suborbital flight.
Ace of Spades writes:
Just updated: the rocket exploded upon ignition. The way the rocket glider works is this: It is ferried up to high altitude (around 50,000 feet) by a plane called “White Knight.” White Knight brings the glider up, drops it, and then the glider ignites its own rockets to make it to orbit.
Apparently the rockets exploded upon ignition.
I can’t wait ’til Shep starts lecturing us about not panicking.
Thinking back to the Right Stuff era of the Air Force, N.A.C.A. and NASA from the late 1940s through the early 1960s, as depicted in Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff and Charles Murray’s Apollo, could the testing of the early X-planes and NASA’s first rockets have occurred in today’s massively over-saturated media era? And today’s efforts to develop private manned commercial spaceflight also have to deal with an MSM (and likely federal and in the case of California at least state governments) that are on some level inherently distrustful of their efforts.