Date
12 December 2017
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo crashed in the Mojave Desert during a test flight on Friday. Photo: Reuters
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo crashed in the Mojave Desert during a test flight on Friday. Photo: Reuters

New Virgin spacecraft could fly next year

The fatal crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo won’t prevent Richard Branson’s space tourism company from having a new spacecraft ready to fly next year.

Chief executive George Whitesides said a second craft being built for Virgin was about 65 percent complete. He sounded a note of optimism about the program even as US federal investigators were beginning what is likely to be a year-long investigation into the accident.

One pilot was killed and the other badly injured in the crash during Friday’s test flight in the Mojave Desert.

Whitesides told the Financial Times the new fuel system used in the spacecraft, designed to take ordinary passengers into space, was rigorously tested. 

Branson had hoped to be among the first passengers on its maiden voyage early next year.

“We really thought by March of next year, we’d be there,” the billionaire entrepreneur told the BBC after arriving in Mojave on the weekend. “Something went wrong. We need to find out what went wrong and fix it.”

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