Video shows SpaceShipTwo just before fatal crash

A video released by the National Transportation Safety Board shows the SpaceShipTwo rocket plane drop from its carrier aircraft, ignite its motor, and prematurely engage its braking system just before disintegrating high above California’s Mojave Desert last October.

Investigators concluded Tuesday the cause of the crash, which killed co-pilot Michael Alsbury and injured pilot Peter Siebold, was the early unlocking of SpaceShipTwo’s tail feathers and inadequate safety and training measures by Scaled Composites, builder of the suborbital rocket plane.

Beginning around the 35-second mark in the video, the craft’s tail booms begin to rotate after being unlocked, causing SpaceShipTwo’s main fuselage to pitch up. The craft broke apart an instant later.

Scaled Composites constructed SpaceShipTwo for Virgin Galactic, which plans to use the rocket plane to carry tourists to the edge of space on brief suborbital flights.

See our story on the NTSB findings.

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