Crash investigators in the United States are trying to establish how a braking system that should only be used during re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere was activated prematurely moments before the Virgin Galactic spaceship plane tore apart over the Mojave desert in California during a test flight. The untimely engagement of the tail mechanism, designed to slow the spaceship’s descent into the atmosphere from space and the possibility of the pilot’s error were disclosed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Virgin Galactic’s spaceship broke apart in mid-air seconds after its re-entry system deployed prematurely in an accident that killed one of its pilots and left another seriously injured. Spaceship Two (SS2) was equipped with a ‘feathering system’ to reduce its speed and stabilise its descent on return to Earth, but the investigators found that the mechanism was activated before the space plane had reached the right speed during the test flight.
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