Richard Branson: We Are Determined To Find Out What Went Wrong with Space Craft

‘We owe it to our test pilots to determine what went wrong... if we can overcome it, we can make the dream live on’

Virgin Galactic Is Rattled, but Undeterred, by Deadly Space Plane Crash (The New York Times)

A team of about 15 investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board began its inquiry on Saturday into the crash of a Virgin Galactic space plane on Friday in the Mojave Desert that killed the co-pilot and severely injured the pilot.

At a news conference on Saturday evening at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, Christopher A. Hart, the acting chairman of the board, said the path of debris was five miles long.

“When the wreckage is dispersed like that, that indicates the likelihood of in-flight breakup,” he said.

Richard Branson, the billionaire entrepreneur who started Virgin Galactic with the goal of taking tourists on short flights into space, arrived at Mojave on Saturday.

“We are determined to find out what went wrong,” Mr. Branson said during a news conference at the spaceport on Saturday morning.

Scaled Composites, the company that designed and built SpaceShipTwo, identified the crew member who died as Michael Alsbury, 39, the co-pilot on the flight.

The pilot, who survived by parachuting from the doomed craft, is Peter Siebold, 43. “He is alert and talking with his family and doctors,” Scaled Composites said in a news release Saturday

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