The wait to enter space for a long list of celebrities including Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber and planet enthusiasts, who shelled out a whopping $250,000 for a seat, may be much longer than originally anticipated after a major setback today (Friday).
Richard Branson, the owner of the private space plane company Virgin Galatic, suffered a business and personal disaster when a test flight went terribly wrong and the “White Knight” rocket propelled space ship exploded moments after its rocket engines fired up after the space plane was released from its “mother” plane in mid-air.
Witnesses spotted an explosion and then saw one sole parachute open for the space ship which was undergoing its 4th live test of its rocket propelled flight. Richard Branson immediately headed for the Mojave Desert to join up with the families and his team and authorities who will have lots of questions over the coming days and months.
The tweets came in first about the tragedy and hopes of Richard’s Branson private space program:
@VirginGalatic: #Spaceship Two has experience an in flight anomaly.
That fateful tweet was followed up quickly with news from the site of the crash which took place in the Mojave desert where the space plane has just lifted off. A co-pilot was dead and pilot who managed to eject with a parachute from the space craft was rescued and brought to a hospital in the Mojave desert where he is in critical condition.
It’s been a surreal week for aviation history.
First, one of the longest running mysteries of a flight tragedy made headlines when media announced that perhaps one of the worst flight tragedies and mysteries had been solved when a piece of Amelia Earthart’s plane seems to have been discovered after nearly 60 years of countless searches and the longest mystery in aviation history.And than tragedy struck again when America’s own weakened space program was hit with a set back with a fiery explosion of a NASA rocket in Virginia heading for the International Space Station blew up on the ground as it fired off for the space station.
This bad news was not only bad for Richard Branson and the long list of hundreds waiting to take a space ride, but it was also bad news for the entire country as private space systems like Richard Branson’s Virgin Galatic are needed to replace NASA’s space shuttle systems for getting private cargo and people into space. Currently the USA depends on Russia to deliver goods and people to the International Space station and so with Richard Branson’s system grounded, many new questions are flying around about the future of space for Americans and the world.
Which now begs the question: How long will it now take those who are not astronauts to experience space travel?