Sunday, November 02, 2014

Alas, SpaceShipTwo

We've had the second bad day in a week for a privately built space vehicle, and this one has cost us a brave and skilled man
Michael Alsbury was an experienced test pilot, designer, and engineer.  Pilot Peter Siebold survived the destruction of SS2, and my prayers are with both families. 
A lot of speculation has focused on the hybrid engine, using a propellant combination never flown before (although ground-tested). I won't add my speculation to the quota at this point. It's far too early.  A couple of interesting facts are that the engine housing looks intact except for the nozzle and that Siebold was able to eject - we don't know yet why Alsbury could not. 
Richard Branson, who funded the program through his Virgin Galactic, says the program will go on. The second SS2 is under construction. Here's hoping they will press on.  You may call it a toy for the rich, but it could greatly broaden our knowledge of flight in high-speed suborbital regimes as well as popularize the idea of citizen space travel for the future.

Ad Astra, Michael Alsbury.

No comments: