Entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson says he is determined to find out what caused a passenger rocket ship being developed by his space tourism firm to crash during a test flight in California’s Mojave desert, killing one pilot and injuring the other.
As US officials began their inquiry and press reports named the dead man as 39-year-old Mike Alsbury, an emotional Sir Richard spoke to reporters close to where SpaceShipTwo came down.
“We are going to learn from what went wrong, discover how we can improve safety and performance and then move forward together. I truly believe that humanity’s greatest achievements come out of our greatest pain,” he said.
The second disaster in less than a week for a private space company, Friday’s crash is a big blow to Virgin Galactic’s bid to give those who can afford it a taste of what only astronauts usually experience.
The inquiry could focus on the space craft’s rocket engine, flying with a new type of fuel for the first time.