Sun, Nov 09, 2014 - Page 6 News List

Virgin Galactic could resume flights in six months


Virgin Galactic could resume test flights with a new spaceship within six months, the company said on Friday, a week after the fatal crash of SpaceShipTwo.

The US’ National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the accident, which has called into question Virgin Group founder Richard Branson’s dream of tourist flights to the edge of space.

“It’s possible that test flights for the next spaceship could begin within six months, before the investigation is expected to conclude,” a spokeswoman for the company said.

SpaceShipTwo copilot Michael Alsbury died in the crash, while pilot Pete Siebold survived injured. The craft disintegrated after being released from WhiteKnightTwo, which flew it up to 13.7km.

“NTSB has let us know that we are free to continue operating during the investigation,” the spokeswoman said. “We are being thoughtful about how we proceed — first we have to take care of our team and family, who have without a doubt been affected by the accident and the loss of their colleague.”

“At the same time, comfort and purpose happen by immersing ourselves in the work that brought the brightest minds to Mojave and that is to build the world’s first commercial spaceline,” she added. “We will be able to continue flying the mother ship while NTSB look into the cause of the crash.”

The potential test flights could take place in a second SpaceShipTwo, which is 65 percent complete, the company said on Tuesday.

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