Richard Branson owned Virgin Galactic‘s SpaceShipTwo (SS2) reusable craft intended for Space tourism crashed in the California (Mojave desert). It has caused a major setback for space tourism. This is the second accident which has occurred this week affiliated to a commercial space company in US.
On October 28th , an unmanned rocket named Antares launched by Orbital Sciences Corp intended for cargo supplies to ISS (International Space Station) exploded shortly after its launch from Virginia. This has been followed by SpaceShipTwo craft crash, but the later was intended for space tourism. SpaceShipTwo had previously fired the craft in January 2014. The crashed craft was operating with a new type of fuel for the first time (i.e., solid plastic-type propellant, ignited by nitrous oxide known as laughing gas). It was announced in May that the company was replacing the rubber-based propellant, which was used previously by three test flights. The Company also reported the new propellant has passed many ground tests.
A pilot has been killed in the tragic incident, while another has been transported to the hospital with unknown condition. Virgin Glactic has been leading the race to space tourism industry after Richard Branson unveiled the spacecraft in 2009. The craft was expected to reach sub-orbital space within few months as more than 700 tourists have booked a trip on SpaceShipTwo craft, chipping in sum of about $250,000 (£125,000) per person. The SS2 is designed to carry six passengers and two pilots into space. WhiteKnightTwo is the carrier aircraft intended for SS2.
Source – BBC, Reuters, virgingalactic.