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Briefing January 2015 Issue

Briefing: January 2015

The loss of SpaceShipTwo during a test flight in November won’t shut down Virgin Galactic’s space-tourism project, according to CEO Richard Branson. Branson also said he still plans to be aboard the first commercial passenger flight. NTSB staffers said their investigation won’t be complete for about a year, but in the first few days after the accident, they found that the aircraft’s feather mechanism -- a rotating tail boom intended to slow the aircraft on descent from high altitudes -- was prematurely deployed, and initiated the breakup of the aircraft at about 50,000 feet. Pilot Peter Siebold was injured but survived, and co-pilot Michael Alsbury was killed. A second spaceship is already under construction and is expected to launch in 2015.

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