The NTSB says an examination of telemetry and video recorded onboard SpaceShipTwo show its braking system, in which the tail of the spaceship feathers to slow its descent and keep it belly-down for landing, deployed early. The tail booms shifted upwards seconds after it fired its rocket motor, and before the explosion. The development could shift the investigation away from the motor. Hart, the NTSB’s acting chairman:
What I’m about to say is a statement of fact and not a statement of cause. We are a long way from finding cause. We still have months and months of investigation to do, and there’s a lot that we don’t know. We have extensive data sources to go through.
The NTSB rules that Roper is at fault for the fatal accident that killed comic James McNair and seriously injured Morgan. Their report says Roper had driven 800 miles before even reaching Walmart’s distribution center and at the time of the crash and had been up for 28 hours straight. Roper also failed to wear a seat belt and was traveling 20 miles per hour above the 45-mph speed limit when he hit the tour van carrying Morgan and six others. Morgan and the other passenger’s injuries were made worse because all but one of the van’s occupants was wearing a seat belt. The van had also been modified. NTSB Chairman Hart:
The passengers … had no available exits until emergency responders removed part of a plywood panel that had been installed between the passenger compartment and the cab. [The only other way of exiting, a sliding door] had become inoperable in the crash.
NTSB investigators recommended that Wal-Mart improve fatigue management programs for drivers and install better vehicle warning systems for drivers and delivery operators.