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Sir Richard Branson flying 'immediately' to crash site

Sir Richard Branson has tweeted that he is flying out to Mojave Air and Spaceport in California after Virgin Galactic's rocket plane SpaceShipTwo crashed during a test flight, killing one of the two pilots on board.

What is Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo?

SpaceShipTwo (SS2) is a rocket plane belonging to Sir Richard Branson's space tourism venture Virgin Galactic that aims to fly six passengers and two pilots to space and back.

The 60ft-long craft has been under development at Mojave Air and Spaceport in California after its initial presentation in 2009 as the company attempts to turn the dream of commercial space travel into a reality.

Sir Richard Branson and US aerospace engineer Burt Rutan posed in front of SpaceShipTwo, attached to carrier plane WhiteKnightTwo, ahead of its official presentation in 2009. Credit: Mark Greenbe/DPA

SS2 allows its passengers to float in zero gravity in a 90" diameter cabin or remain seated with window views out of the craft at their side and above their heads.

It was designed to be carried 15km into the air by the WhiteKnightTwo jet and then released by the mothership, whereupon a rocket motor ignites to fire the craft to an altitude of 110km, before it returns to Earth as a glider.

Virgin Galactic posted footage of the SS2 going supersonic for the first time on its YouTube account in April 2013:


Virgin space crash kills co-pilot and leaves pilot injured

Authorities have confirmed the co-pilot of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo died in the test flight crash over the Mojave Desert.

The pilot was ejected from the craft and was found injured at the crash scene. He has been taken to a local hospital, Kern County Sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt said.

Witness says Virgin Galactic craft exploded over desert

A photographer who saw Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo crash has said the space tourism craft exploded over California's Mojave Desert after igniting its rocket motor.

Witness Ken Brown confirmed the wreckage was in the desert north of Mojave Air and Space Port.

Ken Brown, who was quoted by the Associated Press, said the craft had been carried to high altitude by a plane and released before the crash.

One pilot has died and another has suffered "major injury" in the crash, according to an official from the California Highway Patrol.


Investigations continue into fireworks factory fire

Investigations are continuing into the cause of a fatal fire at a fireworks factory in Stafford.

The bodies of two men were found in the wreckage of the warehouse by emergency service today. A third man remains in a critical condition in hospital following the blaze on Thursday.

A 53-year-old man arrested in connection with the fire has been released with no further action and is now being treated as a witness.

ITV News' Midlands reporter Ben Chapman reports:

Abuse inquiry searching for third chair after Woolf quits

Questions have been raised about the checks undertaken by the Home Office and Home Secretary Theresa May after a second person quit as chair of the inquiry into historical child sexual abuse in Westminster.

Fiona Woolf's resignation followed growing calls from abuse victims' representatives for her to go over her links to Lord Brittan, a key figure to be questioned in the inquiry.

Mrs May has confirmed she will meet with survivors' groups and consult with relevant MPs before appointing Mrs Woolf's successor, as ITV News Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks reports.

Please note: The report contains flashing images

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