SpaceShip Two destroyed, pilot killed in crash

SpaceShip TwoVirgin Galactica’s suborbital tourist spacecraft SpaceShip Two is launched on its first rocket-powered test since January 2014, this time using a modified rocket engine and a fuel mixture different from its previous test flights. Within seconds of its release and the firing of its engine, things go disastrously wrong: an explosion rips through the vehicle, which tumbles into the Mojave Desert from an altitude of 50,000 feet. One of SpaceShip Two’s pilots, Michael Alsbury, is killed on impact; the other pilot ejects from the vehicle and parachutes to the ground, though he is still severely injured. Virgin Galactic and the National Transportation Safety Board begin an investigation into the accident; though this first flightworthy SpaceShip Two model, the VSS Enterprise, is destroyed, another is under construction.