MIAMI — Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft SpaceShipTwo crashed today in Southern California, killing one pilot and leaving the other with severe injuries, according to press reports. The crash happened during a powered test flight in the Mojave Desert being done by parter Scaled Composites, said the company in a statement.
ShapeShipTwo is a total loss, and the company didn’t have further information on the pilots, according to its statement. “Our first concern is the status of the pilots, which is unknown at this time. We will work closely with the relevant authorities to determine the cause of the accident and provide updates as soon as we are able to do so,” it said. The information was included in a series of tweets that went out around 2:30 EDT.
According to Virgin Galactic, SpaceShipTwo can carry six passengers and two pilots. It is 60 feet long with a 90-inch diameter cabin, similar in size to a Falcon 900 executive jet, albeit with no floor dissecting the cabin allowing maximum room for the astronauts to float in zero gravity. The spacecraft was powered by a hybrid rocket motor.
Potential passengers began paying $250,000 deposits to fly on SpaceShipTwo in 2005 to take suborbital flights. The company had planned on starting those flights in 2015.