On October 31, 2014 at 17:12 UTC Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane crashed during a powered test flight over California’s Mojave Desert, leaving one pilot dead and another seriously injured. The anomaly apparently occurred after the space plane fired its rocket motor following a high-altitude drop from Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo mothership. Moments later, something went wrong and officials declared an emergency.
Virgin Galactic is a British commercial spaceflight company within the Virgin Group which hopes to develop commercial spacecraft and provide suborbital spaceflights to space tourists. The White Knight Two (WK2) is a jet-powered cargo aircraft which is used to lift the SpaceShipTwo spacecraft to release altitude. The SpaceShipTwo (SS2) is an air-launched suborbital space plane designed for space tourism. It is manufactured by The Spaceship Company, a California-based company owned by Virgin Galactic.