Second Spaceship Crash In One Week: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Suffers "In-Flight Anomaly" - Live Feed

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For the second time in a week, a vessel due to go to space has crashed. As SpaceFlightNow reports, Virgin Galactic is reporting its SpaceShipTwo suborbital rocket plane experienced an “in-flight anomaly” on a powered test flight over California’s Mojave Desert on Friday. Two pilots were believed to be aboard SpaceShipTwo, according to the scanner discussion. SpaceShipTwo test flights customarily carry two pilots.

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AP provides some background:

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Wikipedia describes the vessel's propulsion system as:

The hybrid rocket engine design for SpaceShipTwo has been problematic and caused extensive delays to the flight test program. The original rocket motor design was based on hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB) fuel and nitrous oxide oxidizer – sometimes referred to as an N2O/HTPB engine[27][28] – from 2009–early 2014. In May 2014, the engine design was switched from a HTPB to a polyamide fuel formulation.

As KGET10 reports,

SpaceShipTwo, the Virgin Galactic space plane, has crashed east of Mojave, according to the director of the Mojave Air and Space Port Stu Witt.

Witt said a 2 p.m. news conference has been scheduled, and no further details will be available until then.

Via SpaceFlightNow,

Virgin Galactic is reporting its SpaceShipTwo suborbital rocket plane experienced an “in-flight anomaly” on a powered test flight over California’s Mojave Desert on Friday.

 

 

The anomaly apparently occurred after the space plane fired its rocket motor following a high-altitude drop from Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo mothership.

 

Scanner traffic from local first responders indicated wreckage from a crashed aircraft in the area. Reports say parachutes were spotted in the air.

 

Two pilots were believed to be aboard SpaceShipTwo, according to the scanner discussion. SpaceShipTwo test flights customarily carry two pilots.

 

The suborbital spacecraft was making its first powered flight since January and was testing a redesigned rocket motor.

 

Virgin Galactic, part of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, was aiming to complete qualification of the rocket-powered plane in time to begin space tourist flights to the edge of space next year.

 

Slung beneath the WhiteKnightTwo carrier plane, the spacecraft took off at 9:19 a.m. PDT (12:19 p.m. EDT; 1619 GMT) from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The takeoff was delayed more than three hours to wait for bad weather to clear the area.

 

The test flight was the 55th flight of the SpaceShipTwo vehicle, and the craft’s 35th free  flight. It was the fourth time SpaceShipTwo had fired up its rocket motor in flight, and the first powered mission since Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites, the craft’s builder, switched from a rubber-based propellant to a plastic-based fuel mix.

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