Virgin Galactic reports a test flight of SpaceShipTwo, launched a 9:19am by its partner Scaled Composites, led to the “loss of the vehicle” after a “serious anomaly”.
#SpaceShipTwo has experienced an in-flight anomaly. Additional info and statement forthcoming.
— Virgin Galactic (@virgingalactic) October 31, 2014
Witnesses reported seeing the aircraft explode in flight. Doug Messier, a blogger who runs the website Parabolic Arc, which reports on space news, witnesses the crash from Jawbone Station, which is on a ridge overlooking the desert where the craft crashed.
We saw the twin contrails of WhiteKnightTwo overhead. They do that prior to a drop. SpaceShipTwo dropped. From what I could tell, motor fired and then stopped then fired again. I think that’s what happened. [It appeared that SpaceShipTwo] broke apart and started coming down in pieces over the desert. We started seeing clouds of dirt where pieces of the ship came down. One after another. At least three. Debris from the ship was scattered all over the road.
The WhiteKnightTwo aircraft, which carries the SpaceShipTwo, lands safely.
A California Highway Patrol spokesperson said two people were found near the crash in the desert north of California City and east of Mojave. One of the individuals had parachuted out of the aircraft, and another was located near the scene as well. The FAA:
Just after 10 a.m. PDT today, ground controllers at the Mojave Spaceport lost contact with SpaceShipTwo, an experimental space flight vehicle. The incident occurred over the Mojave Desert shortly after the space flight vehicle separated from WhiteKnightTwo, the vehicle that carried it aloft. Two crew members were on board SpaceShipTwo at the time of the incident. WhiteKnightTwo remained airborne after the incident. The FAA is investigating.