1. National

Virgin Galactic investigation 'could take a year'

The investigation into what caused the Virgin Galactic test flight to crash could take as long as 12 months, lead investigator Chris Hart has said.

Mr Hart, who is acting head of the National Transportation Safety Board, also told reporters that his team would interview injured co-pilot Peter Siebold when he was ready.

View all 48 updates ›

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:

More on this story