Space Tourism Ship Crashes in Test Flight; 1 Pilot Dead

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo goes down
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 31, 2014 1:46 PM CDT
Updated Oct 31, 2014 2:17 PM CDT
Space Tourism Ship Crashes in Test Flight
This 2013 file photo provided by Virgin Galactic shows its SpaceShipTwo under rocket power over Mojave, Calif.   (AP Photo/Virgin Galactic, Mark Greenberg, File)

A spacecraft intended to carry tourists into space someday crashed this afternoon in California's Mojave desert, with one pilot dead and another injured, reports AP. "Our first concern is the status of the pilots," says a Virgin Galactic statement following the loss of its SpaceShipTwo craft. NBC News reports that at least one parachute was spotted after the mid-air explosion, and KGET reports that a medical helicopter brought one patient to the hospital.

The SpaceShipTwo took off from Mojave Air and Space Port and soon suffered a "serious anomaly," says Virgin Galactic. "We will work closely with relevant authorities to determine the cause of this accident." One witness says the craft exploded after it released from its carrier plane and ignited its rocket motor. The carrier plane landed safely. The crash follows the explosion of an unmanned supply rocket for the International Space Station earlier this week in Virginia. (Read more Virgin Galactic stories.)

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