Virgin Galactic spaceship's descent device deployed prematurely

Wreckage lies near the site where a Virgin Galactic space tourism rocket, SpaceShipTwo, exploded and crashed in Mojave, Calif. Saturday, Nov 1, 2014. The explosion killed a pilot aboard and seriously injured another while scattering wreckage in Southern California's Mojave Desert, witnesses and officials said. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)   | Photo Credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu

Investigators say Virgin Galactic’s experimental spaceship broke apart in flight over California’s Mojave Desert after a device to slow the craft’s descent prematurely deployed.

National Transportation Safety Board acting chairman Christopher Hart said on Sunday that while no cause for Friday’s crash has been determined, investigators found the “feathering” system was activated before the craft reached the appropriate speed.

The system requires a two-step process to deploy. The co-pilot unlocked the system but Mr. Hart said the second step occurred “without being commanded”.

The co-pilot was killed. The pilot parachuted to the ground and is hospitalized.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 1:38:59 PM |

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