Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has been urged to “give up” on its space bid, following claims that safety warnings were not heeded prior to its $500 million vehicle exploding in mid-air. However, Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Galactic, whose SpaceShipTwo blew apart Friday after being released from a carrier aircraft, said Saturday that if they learn what went wrong––and can overcome it––the program will continue.
Branson, who was in Mojave, California, was about the future of the program. He paused and said, “we would love to finish what we started some years ago.” Branson once envisioned operating flights by 2007. Last month, he talked about the first flight being next spring with his son.
Friday’s flight marked the 55th for SpaceShipTwo, which was intended to be the first of a fleet of craft. This was only the fourth flight to include a brief rocket firing. The rockets fire after the spacecraft is released from the underside of a larger carrying plane. During other flights, the craft either was not released from its mothership or functioned as a glider after release.
However, despite SpaceShipTwo accident, Virgin Galactic could have a new spacecraft ready to fly by next year. George Whitesides, the head of the company dedicated to Branson’s vision of bringing everyday passengers into space, said a second craft being built for Virgin was about 65 percent complete, sounding a note of optimism about the program even as federal investigators were just beginning what is likely to be a year-long investigation into accident.
“The second spaceship is getting close to readiness,” he said, adding that it could be ready to fly by next year once the probe by the National Transportation Safety Board reached its conclusions.
“We really thought by March of next year, we’d be there,” Sir Richard Branson told the BBC after arriving in Mojave on Saturday. “Something went wrong. We need to find out what went wrong and fix it.”
Sources: CBC Canada, Telegraph UK, Fox News