posted at 01:50
Author Name: Josh Edelson
Probe of Virgin spaceship crash may take year
The doomed Virgin flight - the 35th by SpaceShipTwo, which is meant to carry tourists on short but expensive trips to space - marked the first time the spaceship had flown on a new kind of plastic-based rocket fuel mixture. A team of federal investigators launched a probe of the causes of Friday's accident, which dealt a devastating setback to commercial space tourism. Hart earlier told reporters that investigators were entering unknown territory since it was "The first time we have been in the lead of a space launch that involved persons on board." Speaking to reporters after arriving in the California facility that had served as the hub of Virgin Galactic's space program, Branson said safety remained his paramount concern. "Safety has always been our number one priority," he added before heading off to rally grieving Virgin Galactic staff at the Mojave Air and Space Port. 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 in 2015, charging $250,000 per person for a ticket on the company's six-seater vehicle. "You are not going to see any commercial space tourism flight next year or probably several years after that," said Marco Caceres, an analyst and director of space studies for the Teal Group consultancy.

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