Virgin Galactic's suborbital space plane SpaceShipTwo was destroyed in tragic accident during a test flight on Friday (Oct. 31). The crash left one pilot dead and the other seriously injured. SpaceShipTwo broke apart over the Mojave Desert in California during the vehicle's fourth powered test flight. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is now investigating the crash. Scroll down to see pictures of the SpaceShipTwo crash investigation.
NTSB officials examine large pieces of SpaceShipTwo debris in California on Nov. 1, 2014. During a suborbital flight, SpaceShipTwo is designed to be lofted into the air by its carrier plane WhiteKnightTwo. Once WhiteKnightTwo releases the space plane, SpaceShipTwo's rocket motor is designed to kick on, taking its six passengers and two pilots into suborbital space. The carrier craft landed safely after the test flight disaster on Oct. 31. Credit: NTSB.[Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Crash: Full Coverage and Investigation]
Officials examine more debris from SpaceShipTwo. The accident investigation could take as much as a week of work on the ground in California, and close to one year of analysis to find out what happened, officials have said. Credit: NTSB.
Scaled Composites have named the two pilots involved in the tragic accident. The vehicle's co-pilot Michael Alsbury died in the crash, and Peter Siebold (Scaled's director of flight operations) was transported to the hospital after the accident. NTSB officials said he was awake and speaking with doctors and family.
NTSB investigators are seen with Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo carrier plane inside the company's hangar at the Mojave Air and Space Port in this image released on Nov. 2, 2014. Credit: NTSB.
Lorenda Ward, investigator-in-charge for the NTSB's Go-Team investigating Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo crash, is seen inside The Spaceship Company production facility in Mojave, California where the spacecraft was built in this image released on Nov. 2, 2014. Credit; NTSB.
NTSB Acting Chairman Christopher Hart visits The Spaceship Company production facility where Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo vehicles are built as part of the NTSB investigation into the Oct. 31 crash of the space plane. Credit: NTSB.
Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides speaks with reporters with company founder Sir Richard Branson neaby at the Mojave Air and Space Port on Nov. 1, 2014, one day after the crash of SpaceShipTwo that killed one pilot and injured another. Credit: Virgin Galactic.
Virgin Galactic founder, billionaire Sir Richard Branson, speaks to members of the press during a news conference on Nov. 1. He flew to the Mojave Desert after learning of the accident.
"We have always known that commercial space travel is an incredibly hard project," Branson told members of the press. "We have been undertaking a comprehensive testing program for many years and safety has always been our number one priority. This is the biggest test program ever carried out in commercial aviation history, precisely to ensure this never happens to the public."
On Nov. 1, acting NTSB Chairman, Christopher Hart, briefs members of the press about the status of the investigation into the crash of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo one day earlier. It was the first of two press conferences Hart would hold that day as an investigation that could last up to a year began in earnest. Credit: NTSB.
Hart briefs reporters on an early plan for the NTSB's investigation into the Oct. 31 breakup and crash of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo space plane. Credit: NTSB.