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Virgin Galactic spacecraft crash inquiry could take up to a year

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Virgin Galactic spacecraft crash inquiry could take up to a year


The investigation into what caused the Virgin Galactic spacecraft to crash could take up to a year, according to the US transport safety agency.

The accident which killed one pilot and left another fighting for his life threatens the dream of commercial space flight.

The debris of the SpaceShipTwo test flight is spread over an eight kilometre swath of California’s Mojave Desert and the painstaking task of putting the pieces together is now underway.

Christopher Hart, acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board said: “While we are investigating, there is nothing that stops this operator from continuing flying and doing what this operator wants to do.”

“If we find anything in the course of this investigation that warrants immediate attention, we would, rather than waiting for the completion of our report, we would put out immediate recommendations as we have frequently done,” he added.

Friday’s crash was the second disaster in less than a week suffered by a private space company. On Tuesday, an Antares rocket built and launched by Orbital Sciences Corp exploded after lift-off from Wallops Island, Virginia, destroying a cargo ship bound for the International Space Station.

Virgin Galactic’s founder Richard Branson says the firm won’t blindly pursue its dream of taking people into space if they can’t find out exactly what went wrong.

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