Descent ‘feathers’ deployed just before Virgin Galactic space plane’s crash


Originally posted on Gigaom:

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo crashed Friday after special tail “feathers” meant to increase drag deployed early, BBC reports. One pilot unlocked the feather system, but it then deployed without a command.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which is conducting the investigation into the doomed flight, has not yet stated if the feathers caused the crash. On Friday, scrutiny was placed on the never-before-flown mix of fuel Virgin Galactic has used. The Wall Street Journal reported SpaceShipTwo’s fuel tanks and engines were recovered “largely intact,” making an explosion less likely.

“If there was a huge explosion, it didn’t occur, I didn’t see it,” Mojave Spaceport CEO Stuart Witt, who was at the scene during the crash, said at a press conference Friday.

The pilot that died in the crash has since been identified as Michael Alsbury. He was a pilot for Scaled Composites for 13 years. He flew SpaceShipTwo during its first-ever powered flight…

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Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Has Crashed


Originally posted on TechCrunch:

space ship two

This morning, Virgin Galactic tweeted that their SpaceShipTwo spaceplane had experienced an “in-flight anomaly”

We have now confirmed that SpaceShipTwo has crashed during a test flight due to currently unknown causes. A press conference is planned with more details at 2 pm pacific.

SpaceShipTwo was designed primarily for space tourism, meant to carry passengers high enough to experience near-weightlessness for roughly $200,000 per ticket. This was a test flight, however, so no passengers are believed to have been onboard.

Update: VirginGalactic confirms the loss of SpaceShipTwo. See timeline below.

WhiteKnightTwo, the jet-powered craft that carries SpaceShipTwo to altitude before detaching, landed safely. At an altitude of roughly 50,000 feet, WhiteKniteTwo releases SpaceShipTwo to fly on its own by rocket power. WK2 had released SpaceShipTwo for free flight roughly 6 minutes before the crash.

There were at least two pilots on board SpaceShipTwo before the crash; their status is unknown. We…

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Pocket Spacecraft wants to send tiny personalized spacecraft to the moon in 2016


Originally posted on Gigaom:

It’s getting easier and easier to own your own spacecraft. Not the giant, fly-to-Mars variety, but miniature CubeSat satellites or tiny paper-like structures that drift over alien surfaces. The Pocket Spacecraft project on Kickstarter is offering up personal CD-shaped spacecraft called Scouts for about $154 or $310, depending on if you want it to land on Earth or the moon. Backers who pledge less than that can own a spacecraft with a team of up to 50 other people.

Three days shy of their crowdfunding deadline, Pocket Spacecraft has raised nearly $100,000. That’s far from the more than $450,000 for which it originally asked, but the Bristol, U.K.-based company has a plan. It’s raised at least $350,000 from other private sources, including the European Space Agency, the Watershed and the Satellite Applications Catapult, meaning the project will proceed anyway.

Scouts are roughly 3 inches across and thinner than a sheet…

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