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:
Faced with a five-mile debris trail and masses of technical data, the team investigating the crash of SpaceShipTwo have their work cut out.
The loss is a tragedy for this small tight-knit team that dreams of making the trip into space accessible to travellers not just astronauts.