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A Setback for Space Tourism

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Crashes During Test Flight In Mojave Desert

Kenneth Chang brings us the latest on the Virgin Galactic tragedy:

The Virgin Galactic space plane that broke apart over the Mojave Desert on Friday shifted early into a high-drag configuration that was designed to slow it down, federal accident investigators have said. The accident killed the co-pilot, Michael Alsbury; the pilot, Peter Siebold survived after parachuting out of the plane.

Clive Irving puts the disaster in perspective:

From the beginning in 2004 there has always been a credibility gap between the fairground hyperbole of [Virgin Group founder Richard] Branson’s formidable publicity machine and the scientific reality of the enterprise. Somehow, probably because he is such a consummate showman, Branson has been able, year after year, to override the story of continual delays, flagrant over-promises and a voracious, seemingly open-ended budget. This time it’s different. A National Transportation Safety Board investigation will deliver a forensic rigor that has been so far lacking. It will strip away the vocabulary of the promoter. And it will reveal the world as lived daily by the engineers and test pilots who knew how much was left to be understood among the hazards of the dream.

See the full story at the Dish.

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