Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Virgin 'ignored' space safety warnings: expert
by Staff Writers
Los Angeles (AFP) Nov 03, 2014

Branson says 'no explosion' behind spacecraft crash
London (AFP) Nov 03, 2014 - Richard Branson, the British billionaire founder of Virgin Galactic, on Monday hit out against "self-proclaimed experts" asserting an explosion was behind the crash of the company's spacecraft last week.

Evidence showed there was "no explosion" behind the deadly crash last Friday of SpaceShipTwo, he told Sky News television.

"I've never seen such irresponsible innuendo and damaging innuendo," the tycoon said.

Branson also vowed to "push on" with Virgin's passenger travel space programme once the reasons behind the accident, in which one test pilot died, had been worked out and corrected.

Branson stressed that the US National Transportation Safety Board investigating the crash had found that the spacecraft's fuel tanks and engine found in the Mojave Desert in California were not broken apart.

"The fuel tanks and the engine were intact, showing there was no explosion, despite a lot of self-proclaimed experts saying that was the cause," he said.

Branson said sensationalist press reports about the crash had been "incredibly hurtful" adding that some of the journalists "should hang their heads in shame".

The crash of SpaceShipTwo is a major setback to Branson's ambition to start ferrying wealthy customers to the edge of space, charging $250,000 (200,000 euros) per ticket.

But the serial entrepreneur made clear he was unbowed in his ambition.

"We must push on," he said. He adding though: "We will not fly members of the public unless we can fly myself and family members."

"I'm absolutely convinced that Virgin Galactic has a great future once the NTSB has made clear exactly what happened," he said.

The investigation into the crash is ongoing and is not expected to conclude for another year.

However a rocket science safety expert on Sunday toild AFP that Virgin Galactic had ignored multiple warnings about the spacecraft's motor and the fuel used since a 2007 incident in which three engineers were killed testing a rocket on the ground.

"I warned them... that the rocket motor was potentially dangerous," said Carolynne Campbell from the Netherlands-based International Association for the Advancement of Space.

Virgin Galactic "ignored" repeated warnings in the years leading up to the deadly crash of its spacecraft in California, a rocket science safety expert said Sunday, as investigators hunted for clues to the accident.

After a second full day of investigation, the acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board told reporters that a lock-unlock lever on the spaceship had been moved prematurely, but emphasized that the cause of the crash was still unknown.

Carolynne Campbell, a rocket propulsion expert with the Netherlands-based International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety, said she could not speculate on the cause of Friday's crash without "all the data."

However, she said multiple warnings about the spacecraft's motor and the fuel used to power it had been issued to Virgin since 2007, when three engineers died testing a rocket on the ground.

"Based on the work we've done, including me writing a paper on the handling of nitrous oxide, we were concerned about what was going on at Virgin Galactic," she told AFP.

"I sent copies of the paper to various people at Virgin Galactic in 2009, and they were ignored."

Campbell said she outlined concerns to Virgin Galactic in a subsequent telephone conversation, but her warning again went unheeded.

"I warned them... that the rocket motor was potentially dangerous," she said.

Campbell's warnings related to nitrous oxide, reportedly used as a fuel component in the doomed craft along with a new substance derived from nylon plastic grains.

After the major setback to British tycoon Richard Branson's plans, Virgin Galactic released a statement late Sunday in which it said it was "dedicated to opening the space frontier, while keeping safety as our 'North Star.'

"This has guided every decision we have made over the past decade, and any suggestion to the contrary is categorically untrue," it said.

- 'Long way from finding cause' -

A team of NTSB investigators has been deployed to the Mojave Desert to probe Friday's crash, in which pilot Michael Alsbury was killed and co-pilot Pete Siebold was seriously injured.

"We are a long way from finding cause," NTSB acting chairman Christopher Hart told reports in Mojave Sunday evening.

But he said, a camera in the cockpit showed a lock-unlock lever used to activate a process in the spaceship's tail section had been moved by the co-pilot while the vehicle was traveling at a speed just above approximately Mach 1.0.

The lever, Hart said, was not supposed to be moved until reaching a speed of Mach 1.4.

"I am not stating this was the cause of this mishap. We have months and months of investigation to determine what the cause was," Hart said.

He added that investigators had found almost all important parts of the space vehicle, including fuel tanks, the oxidizer tank and engine, which were all intact.

- 'Safety number one priority' -

Branson said safety had always been Virgin's paramount concern.

"Safety has always been our number one priority," he said, adding that the company would not "push on blindly" with its ambitious space program until the causes of the accident had been determined.

Branson, however, took aim at early speculation of the causes of the crash.

"To be honest, I find it slightly irresponsible that people who know nothing about what they're saying can be saying things before the NTSB makes their comments," he told reporters in Mojave on Saturday.

Virgin Galactic chief executive George Whitesides also questioned the safety claims, telling the Financial Times in an interview Sunday that differences of opinion were common in the world of space flight development.

"In the space community, you will be able to find people who have favorite technologies of different types. One group will say their type of technology is better than another," the paper quoted him as saying.

"We pay a lot of attention to the several hundred engineers that we have on staff, and other expert consultants we've talked with about our technologies."

- 'No sign of explosion' -

Witnesses to Friday's crash say there was no obvious sign of an explosion before Virgin's suborbital SpaceShipTwo broke apart and hurtled to earth shortly after it had detached from a mothership at an altitude of around 45,000 feet (13,700 meters).

The crash was the second disaster to rock the private sector space industry in less than a week, after an Antares rocket carrying supplies to the International Space Station exploded after takeoff in Virginia on Tuesday.

Experts say the accident will delay the advent of commercial space tourism by several years.

Virgin Galactic had hoped to start ferrying wealthy customers to the edge of space next year, charging $250,000 per person for a ticket on the company's six-seater vehicle.

Hart said on-site investigations would last up to a week but the full probe piecing together facts and analysis "will be probably 12 months or so."

Wreckage from the crash was strewn over five miles (eight kilometers), Hart said.

Investigators hoped to yield clues to the causes of the crash from the reams of telemetry data and video footage expected to be available, Hart said.

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
Rocket Science News at Space-Travel.Com

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Probe of US spaceship crash may take 'year'
Mojave, United States (AFP) Nov 02, 2014
Authorities who Saturday carried out their first full day of investigation into a US spacecraft crash that killed one pilot and seriously injured another said probing the incident could take a year. At a news conference late Saturday, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) acting chairman Christopher Hart said debris from the SpaceShipTwo rocket crash was strewn over an area five miles ... read more

China examines the three stages of lunar test run

China gears up for lunar mission after round-trip success

NASA's LRO Spacecraft Captures Images of LADEE's Impact Crater

New lunar mission to test Chang'e-5 technology

You can't get to Mars, but your name can

A One Way Trip to Mars

Mars 2020 Will Continue Search for Habitability

NASA Seeks Ultra-lightweight Materials to Help Enable Journey to Mars

Branson shocked as Virgin spaceship crash kills pilot

India to launch unmanned crew module in December

Virgin crash sets back space tourism by years: experts

Virgin spaceship crashes in US desert, one pilot dead

China's First Lunar Return Mission A Stunning Success

China completes first mission to moon and back

China's Lunar Orbiter Makes Safe Landing, First in 40 Years

China to build global quantum communication network in 2030

Students text International Space Station using a 20-foot antenna

Student Experiments Lost in Antares Rocket Explosion

NASA to work with cargo partners despite rocket crash

Russian space station resupply rocket launches, docks at ISS

NASA Completes Initial Assessment after Orbital Launch Mishap

India to test fly bigger space vehicle next month

Arianespace signs contract with ELV for ten Vega launchers

Antares Rocket Crash in Virginia Investigation to Take up to Year

VLTI detects exozodiacal light

Yale finds a planet that won't stick to a schedule

In a first, astronomers map comets around another star

Getting To Know Super-Earths

Active, biodegradable packaging for oily products

E-waste inferno burning brighter in China's recycling capital

Reverse engineering materials for more efficient heating and cooling

Steering ESA satellites clear of space debris

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.