Virgin Galactic's 'SpaceShip Two' could fly later this year

The original spacecraft crashed on a test flight in October Credit: Reuters

Work has started on a second Virgin Galactic spaceship months after a test flight crashed killing a pilot.

The second 'SpaceShip Two' sub-orbital space plane is designed to reach the edge of space at an altitude of 100 kilometres, or 62 miles, before returning to Earth.

It could fly later this year, according to website

Virgin chief Sir Richard Branson posted an announcement on Twitter inviting people to "take a look behind the scenes" at the progress being made on the new craft.

He added that construction of a third space plane was also due to begin in 2015.

Co-pilot Michael Alsbury, 39, was killed last October after the test flight aircraft broke up and crashed 50,000 feet over California's Mojave desert.

The other pilot, Peter Siebold, escaped with minor injuries after being blown free and parachuting to the ground.

The crash is believed to have involved premature deployment of braking fins that are normally used to aid a safe descent.

Sir Richard added: "Our second spaceship is being built and tested by our wholly-owned sister organisation, The Spaceship Company, and together we are making any modifications or improvements that we feel are necessary to improve the safety of the vehicle."