Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Crash: Experts React

Pieces of of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo space plane are seen on the Mojave Desert floor after a deadly crash that killed one pilot and injured another on Oct. 31, 2014.
Pieces of of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo space plane are seen on the Mojave Desert floor after a deadly crash that killed one pilot and injured another on Oct. 31, 2014. The crash occurred during a rocket-powered test flight. (Image credit: AP Online Video / powered by Newslook)

The tragic crash of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo space plane on Friday, Oct. 31, has the commercial spaceflight industry in mourning for the Scaled Composites test pilot who died in the accident, while also hoping for the recovery of a second pilot who was injured. See the first reactions on the SpaceShipTwo test flight tragedy from experts below. For the latest news, read our full coverage here.

Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic

Everyone at Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Company and Scaled Composites is deeply saddened by today's events. All our thoughts are with the families of everyone affected by this tragic event, and we are doing everything we can to support them … Space is hard - but worth it. We will persevere and move forward together. Read Branson's full statement here.

George Whitesides, Virgin Galactic CEO

Our primary thoughts at this moment are with the crew and family, and we’re doing everything we can for them now. I’d like to recognize the work of the first responders who we work with in the Antelope Valley for their efforts on behalf of the team. We’re also thinking of the team members that we have at the companies that have been working on this program. Space is hard and today was a tough day. We are going to be supporting the investigation as we figure out what happened today. We’re going to get through it. The future rests in many ways on hard days like this, but we believe we owe it to the team, that has been working so hard on this endeavor, to understand this and to move forward. And that is what we’ll do.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

On behalf of the entire NASA family, I offer our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the pilot lost in today’s accident involving Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, and we are praying for a speedy recovery of the other pilot.

While not a NASA mission, the pain of this tragedy will be felt by all the men and women who have devoted their lives to exploration. Space flight is incredibly difficult, and we commend the passion of all in the space community who take on risk to push the boundaries of human achievement.

New Mexico Spaceport Authority
(Oversees Spaceport America, home port for Virgin Galactic)

The New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) is greatly saddened by the events surrounding the Scaled Composites powered flight test of SpaceShipTwo today at the Mojave Air and Space Port. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the crew and families and to our friends and colleagues at Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic. We will continue to work with and lend our support to Virgin Galactic through this tragedy and in the coming months as we move forward.

James Pura, Space Frontier Foundation President and Director

These brave pioneers, like the pilot who lost his life today, knowingly do this because they want to expand humanity's horizons, no matter the high risk that is inherently involved. We respect those of us willing to pioneer the unknown and challenge what's possible. It is innately human to reach for new heights.

House Science, Space and Technology Committee
Chairman Lamar Smith and Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo

We are deeply saddened to hear of the loss of one of the test pilots during today’s SpaceShipTwo flight. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Virgin Galactic family.

Rick Hanton, chair of Yuri's Night, a celebration of human spaceflight

It is a disappointing fact that many advances in spaceflight are marred by human tragedy, but as most veterans of the space industry know, human spaceflight is difficult to achieve on the best of days. Virgin Galactic has been working hard to push the envelope of commercial space tourism and we hope that they will continue to do so after this accident.

The team at Yuri's Night stands with Virgin Galactic during this trying time. Our thoughts are with the families of the pilots and with our colleagues who will work to learn from this tragedy. Despite the setbacks we encounter, together we will push forward and continue to reach the stars.

Email Tariq Malik at or follow him @tariqjmalik and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.