Witness: Space tourism rocket explodes in desert

AP Photo/Reed Saxon

AP Photo/Reed Saxon

A Virgin Galactic space tourism rocket exploded after taking off on a test flight in Southern California's Mojave Desert, a witness said Friday.

At least one was dead and another was injured, California Highway Patrol said. The SpaceShipTwo rocket is typically flown by a crew of two pilots and has been under development at Mojave Air and Space Port in the desert northeast of Los Angeles.

“During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of SpaceShipTwo,” Virgin Galactic tweeted Friday.

Ken Brown, a photographer who witnessed the crash, said the space tourism craft exploded after it was released from a plane that carries it to a high altitude.

The company founded by British billionaire Richard Branson would not say what happened other that it was working with authorities to determine the cause of the “accident.”

Virgin Galactic has been the front-runner in the fledgling space-tourism industry.

SpaceShipTwo was designed to be carried aloft by a specially designed jet and then released before igniting its rocket for suborbital thrill ride into space and then a return to Earth as a glider.

Virgin Galactic, once it finished developing its rocket ship, was going to launch space tourism flights from the quarter-billion-dollar Spaceport America in southern New Mexico.businessMojave desertScience & TechnologySpaceShipTwoVirgin Galactic

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco leaders argue that plans to develop housing in the region’s transit-heavy urban areas are at odds with goals to increase equity for people of color.
SF officials fear regional housing strategy could increase displacement of people of color

Equity and climate goals at odds in plan that concentrates development in transit-rich urban areas

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority cut most of its bus service last year due to the pandemic, and has been slow to bring it back due to budget concerns and low ridership. (Samantha Laurey/ Special to S.F. Examiner)
Supes urge SFMTA to expedite restoration of Muni lines

Resolution emphasizes focus on seniors, individuals with disabilities and community routes

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott listens at a rally to commemorate the life of George Floyd and others killed by police outside City Hall on Monday, June 1, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Will the Biden Administration help SF speed up police reform?

City has struggled to implement changes without federal oversight

Reports say that the number of American visitors to Mexico’s Quintana Roo, where Tulum and Cancun are located, increased by 23 percent between 2019 and 2020. (Shutterstock)
Stop going to Mexico

Travel during pandemic is ‘vacation colonialism’

Snow covering the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe appeals to skiers and snowshoers. (Matt Johanson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Winter Wisdom: 50 lessons in 50 years, Part 1

Series offers tips for adventurers seeking enjoyment in nature

Most Read