"Anomaly" reported in Virgin Galactic test flight


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Ah, damn.

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Hope they both survived.

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One is reported dead.

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I’ve been worrying about this since they announced that the craft was carbon fiber composite. The stuff has great tensile strength, but very little compressive or sheer strength, no ductility, and no plasticity.


I’ll just echo what I said elsewhere.

My heart goes out to everyone involved. Horrible situation. Been through it, very difficult. I can imagine how they’re all feeling.


Wow, looks like the vehicle was unflyable after the engine failed. The pilot who survived was lucky to get out. I wonder if the propellent mix was changed to get a higher specific impulse?

Edit: capsules are safer than space planes. An apollo stack would have had a better chance of survival in both space shuttle accidents. If your engine blows up, you still have a working vehicle to land with.

While sad, I applaud the continual push to expand our technology and our frontiers. I’m sure the person who died did so doing what he/she loved.


Damn. I let the prospect of the commercialization of space make me complacent. I forgot that:

This is real. This is dangerous. This is exploration.


A good, frequently updated report.

Wikipedia articles about such events tend to be a very good source of information amalgamated from multiple sources.


When a uniformed member of the astronaut corps dies in an anomoly, I feel a certain patriotic swell, but this guy died… for tourism! No matter how you puff it up, spaceship one isn’t going to get useful gear out of the gravity well.

It’s a good thing for all of us that private pilots are still allowed to risk their lives for whatever reasons… but I’m not standing up for the space postnational anthem right now.

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Sad to see that one of the pilots has died.

What could be done to prevent this? I don’t know. I think if you’re testing major modifications, it would help to be able to remote-fly the first few flights. ???

Remote flying is nontrivial. I doubt SS2 has the capability and the cost to add it would be prohibitive. They just fly with as few people as they can.

You could have a less monolithic architecture. With a separate capsule and booster, the capsule can survive an engine explosion.

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Commerce can drive development.

That’s the theory here. People will pay for space tourism, and that pays for development.

For Xenu’s sake, man – they are actually building spacecraft!


This song fits my feeling astonishingly well.
(I cannot find a youtube/embeddable version.)

And if I should die in a bright burning flare,
Just take what you find and throw it in the air.
Don’t grieve for my death, don’t ask why for ten years,
Just build one more ship and ask for volunteers.

Everything is nontrivial. Vostok, Mercury, Voskhod, Gemini, Apollo, and Soyuz had all flown without crews before anyone would risk any crews, though other problems would still cost seven lives in Apollo and Soyuz.

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Buran was able to fly and land unmanned, fully automatically. And that was 1988, and Russian to boot. The history of unmanned flight reaches back to before WW1. Note the 1946 use of eight remote-controlled B-17s for collecting samples during atomic bomb tests.

Nontrivial, yes; but the technology is relatively mature by now.


Do you expect Virgin Galactic to develop it though?

Commercial airplanes don’t fly pilotless during test flights. They fly with minimum crew.

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Thats the thing. What are we doing here? Space flight, or aviation?

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