Space craft crashes, co-pilot dies and Virgin Galactic issues a statement that includes this line: “During the test the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of the vehicle”.
Weirdly robotic and impersonal but perhaps a clue to the confusion and corporate fright surrounding the accident, which has seriously derailed plans to turn space travel into a commercial venture.
There’s no clear idea of what happened – though fingers are being pointed at the volatile fuel mix, which includes nitrous oxide – and it may take up to year to figure things out.
Virgin Galactic, which is already running well behind schedule on the project (flights were supposed to start soon), has declined to say what impact the accident will have on its plans.
“We are dedicated to opening the space frontier, while keeping safety as our ‘North Star’,” the company said in a followup statement.
“This has guided every decision we have made over the past decade, and any suggestion to the contrary is categorically untrue.
“Everything we do is to pursue the vision of accessible and democratized space – and to do it safely …
“Now is not the time for speculation.”