One pilot has died and another has suffered "major injury" in a crash during a test flight of the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo, Californian authorities have said.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
The wreckage of the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo can be seen over the Mojave desert in California.
Californian authorities say one pilot has died and another has suffered a "major injury" following the test flight.
One pilot has died and the other has suffered "major injury" after Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo crashed during a test flight in the Mojave desert, an official from the California Highway Patrol has said.
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