Space tourism is reassessed after Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo explodes and crashes near Mojave, California

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo

Virgin Galactic’ SpaceShipTwo yesterday (October 31) at 10:51 am PDT tragically exploded and crashed near Mojave, California after it experienced an in-flight “anomaly”. Virgin Atlantic Airways’ Richard Branson has been promoting space tourism and has reportedly collected more than $80 million for future flights at $250,000 for each ticket. Yesterday’s fatal crash is a major setback for the program which is committed to moving forward in its quest for space flights.

The flight was the first test flight of SpaceShipTwo with new plastic-based fuel, replacing the original—a rubber-based solid fuel. The crash killed the first officer and the captain was seriously injured.

Bloomberg Businessweek explores the program from a business perspective (see below).

Virgin Galactic logo


Virgin Galactic’s partner Scaled Composites conducted a powered test flight of SpaceShipTwo earlier yesterday (October 31). During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of the vehicle. The WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft landed safely.

The Virgin Galactic team is cooperating with our partners at Scaled Composites and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as well as local authorities. We understand that the NTSB is scheduled to arrive in Mojave on Saturday Nov. 1) to commence their investigation, which is expected to last several days.

Local authorities have confirmed that one of the two Scaled Composites pilots died during the accident. The other pilot parachuted to the ground and is being treated at a local hospital. All of us at Virgin Galactic are deeply saddened by yesterday’s events. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of all those affected by this accident.

George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic, provided the following statement:

“Our primary thoughts at this moment are with the crew and family, and we’re doing everything we can for them now. I’d like to recognize the work of the first responders who we work with in the Antelope Valley for their efforts on behalf of the team. We’re also thinking of the team members that we have at the companies that have been working on this program.

Space is hard and October 31 was a tough day. We are going to be supporting the investigation as we figure out what happened today. We’re going to get through it. The future rests in many ways on hard days like this, but we believe we owe it to the team, that has been working so hard on this endeavour, to understand this and to move forward. And that is what we’ll do.”

Virgin's Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson (above) is on his way to Mojave and is expected to arrive by early Saturday morning.

Bloomberg Businessweek: The Virgin Galactic Crash and the Risks of Space Tourism: CLICK HERE

Photos: Virgin Galactic.

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo 1