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Virgin Galactic reports loss of Spaceship 2

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This is akin to the 1908 Wright Flyer crash. Tragic, but just a bump on the road to the future. These guys are/were doing great, pioneering work and a century from now will be remembered much like Orville Wright and Lt Selfridge. Godspeed Virgin and Scaled Composites, keep up the great work.

Edited to add well deserved credit to SC.

Edited by Napoleon_Tanerite

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I bet Elon Musk is taking a step back and a second look at SpaceX right now. They've been lucky with no fatalities, although they've had their share of issues. I remember a laboratory explosion here in Texas a while back, and then a couple of Falcon rocket failures:

http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/2014/08/22/spacex-test-rocket-explodes-in-texas/14472939/

As for Virgin, they appear to be the only company that has lost people in their program, this is now the fourth death:

http://www.knightsarrow.com/rockets/scaled-composites-accident/

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To be fair and technically correct this accident and the other you mentioned are under Scaled Composites, not Virgin.

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Space is an unforgiving business. Even with the most stringent safety measures its still a 50/50 role of the dice.

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Tough week for the Mojave flight test community. An NTPS Slingsby went down killing the instructor (Mike Hill) and student (Ilam Zigante).

http://www.ntps.edu/news/latest/

ABC has posted some photos from todays flight/mishap.

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/fatal-virgin-galactic-crash-mystery-designers/story?id=26608625

HT_virgin_galactic_1_jtm_141031_4x3_992.

HT_virgin_galactic_2_jtm_141031_4x3_992.

HT_virgin_galactic_3_jtm_141031_4x3_992.

EDIT: Added link to ABC News article.

Edited by flynhigh

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Damn...

Rough week for private commercial spaceflight.

:beer:

EDIT: correction

Edited by JarheadBoom

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How the heck did the one pilot survive!? I'm assuming i'm looking at a chute of some sort in the pic above, but it looks like it's connected to a seat? Plus how the heck did he get out of an exploding spaceship without a ejection system....anyone have any info? All the news keeps talking about it the fluff...none of the specifics...

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I toast to the explorers past, present, and future who push the boundaries of flight for the advancement of mankind.

:beer:

  • Upvote 1

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I toast to the explorers past, present, and future who push the boundaries of flight for the advancement of mankind.

:beer:

Indeed, I wish NASA had a more of a mission these days too, seems like the momentum of the Apollo era has been lost forever in our government. At least there's enough of a potential market to make it worth pursuing in private enterprise.

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I toast to the explorers past, present, and future who push the boundaries of flight for the advancement of mankind.

:beer:

2

:beer:

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NTSB: SpaceShipTwo's Tail Boom Deployed Early

http://www.avweb.com/avwebflash/news/NTSB-SpaceShip-Twos-Tail-Boom-Deployed-Early223043-1.html

It'll be interesting to find out if this was the cause. The unique nature of flight test instrumentation on-board likely means that a cause will be determined much quicker than the typical NTSB investigation. I imagine there's a hell of a lot of stress on that airframe when the rocket is burning. If the tail boom did go into feather mode during the burn, then an in-flight break-up wouldn't be an unreasonable response.

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Here is a video with on-board audio. You can hear when they unlock the feather.

Also here is a video of the first feather test. Obviously this was unpowered but the fuselage still moves pretty abruptly once the things kick in. I can't imagine the stresses involved at Mach 1.0+. Starts at 1:00

Edited by Breckey

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Mike's friends and co-workers at Scaled Composites have set up a memorial fund for his wife and two children (ages 7 and 10). This link has been distributed to the Society of Flight Test Engineers membership (Mike was a member), thus I'd consider it vetted.

http://www.gofundme.com/MikeAlsbury

2481433_1414976566.7146.png

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Talk about the stars aligning. Amazing. Here's to a full recovery. :beer:

SpaceShipTwo Pilot Speaks Through Dad

The pilot who survived the in-flight breakup of SpaceShipTwo in late October told his father he was unconscious for about half of his parachute descent from 50,000 feet but he managed a thumbs-up for the occupants of a chase plane that circled him on the way down. The Mail quoted Peter Siebold's physician father Klaus as saying his son is in "good spirits" 10 days after the spacecraft broke apart on a test flight. The other pilot on the spacecraft, Michael Alsbury, didn't survive. "I must have lost consciousness at first. I can't remember anything about what happened but I must have come to during the fall. I remember waving to the chase plane and giving them the thumbs-up to tell them I was OK. I know it's a miracle I survived," the Mail quoted Dr. Siebold as saying his son told him.

The NTSB has determined the re-entry system of the vehicle deployed prematurely and caused SpaceShipTwo to break up but has not determined a cause. There were no ejection seats aboard but Siebold told his father, who told the Mail, that he suffered a broken shoulder but was back at home in Tehachapi, California, three days after the accident. His father lives in Seattle and visited his son at home last week. Siebold has yet to speak to investigators but apparently laid out the sequence to his dad. "He doesn't remember anything from the actual crash. He came to during the descent. He must have woken up about halfway down," Dr. Siebold told the Mail. "When he was on the way down the chase plane was circling him and he was waving and giving the thumbs-up to indicate he was all right while he was dangling from the parachute. He's recovering at home. He broke the head of the humerus bone that sits in the right shoulder. He's got a rib and lung contusion and there is an issue with his eyes because of the cold. It was around minus 60 degrees up there."

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