SPACESHIP TWO PILOT PROVIDES FIRST-HAND ACCOUNT
This accident occurred just a few seconds into the test flight. Just after release from the WhiteKnightTwo which carries the SpaceShipTwo to launch altitude. What caused this failure, according to the data from the flight, was deploying the feathering system during the acceleration phase of the flight. The feathering system of this aircraft was designed for use during re-entry. This deployment was uncommanded and occurred approximately 2 seconds after the co-pilot unlocked the feathering system. “unaware that the feather system had been unlocked early by the co-pilot. His description of the vehicle motion was consistent with other data sources in the investigation.” Acting Chairman: Christopher A. Hart’s Third Media Briefing on the Crash of SpaceshipTwo (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjYVhGvUSNc)explains the feathering system of the aircraft that failed.
The on-scene portion of the investigation is over, confirmed by the NTSB. The wreckage of the crash has been recovered and is stored in “a secure location for follow-on examination.” The safety agency will hold further investigations at the NTSB Recorders Laboratory in Washington D.C. where they will review the video camera footage. Available data for the vehicle’s systems will continue to be reviewed. In the meantime, the vehicle performance group will continue to analyze the aerodynamic and internal forces that acted on the vehicle during the launch.