MOSCOW, November 2 (RIA Novosti) — A full inquiry into the test flight crash of the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo could take up to 12 months, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reported.
The acting chairman of the NTSB, Christopher Hart confirmed that board would be on the scene for four to seven days but a full investigation could take up to one year, adding that it was not only important to find out what happened, “but more importantly, why it happened so we can make recommendations to try and prevent it from happening again,” he told reporters in a press conference aired on NBC News on Sunday.
Given the stretch of the debris five miles (8 kilometers) southwest of the Californian Mojave Desert, Hart said it implied that the crash occurred mid-air, in what he said was an “in-flight separation”.
The crash, which occurred on Friday, killed a 39-year old co-pilot, Michael Alsbury, whereas the other pilot deployed a parachute, but is currently recovering in hospital from severe injuries.
The NTSB said that they would not interview the pilot, 43-year old Peter Siebold, until he expressed readiness, according to NBC.
Meanwhile, Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson on Saturday told reporters that the root cause of the crash would be uncovered, but also said that the project would continue.
"We owe it to our test pilots to find out exactly what went wrong. If we can overcome it, we’ll make absolutely certain that the dream [space travel] lives on," Branson said as aired on NBC.
More than 700 customers paid up to $250,000 each to travel on the SpaceShipTwo, but so far no one has requested for a refund.
The US Federal Aviation Administration is already investigating the crash. This is the second accident related to spacecrafts in the United States in the last week. On Tuesday the unmanned Antares rocket carrying a cargo spacecraft crashed after liftoff from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.