Branson Gives Heartfelt Statement Following Virgin Galactic Crash

Yesterday morning, it was reported that a rocket from Richard Branson‘s space travel company Virgin Galactic crashed during a test flight over California’s Mojave Desert, killing one man and injuring another.
Today, as more information about the crash emerges, various outlets are reporting that Virgin Galactic has been accused of “ignoring warnings” that the $500 million space craft was “unsafe to fly”.
The Sydney Morning Herald report that a series of public domain emails and documents, dating back several years, show engineers expressing concerns at the “dangers” of Virgin Galactic’s rocket engine system.
Safety concerns surrounding the program date back to at least 2007, when three of the company’s engineers were killed in an explosion during a test of a rocket engine.
Carolynne Campbell, a rocket propulsion expert at the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS), has lashed out at Virgin Galactic’s safety record.
Last night, she gave a statement, saying: “This explosion is not a surprise. None whatsoever, I am sorry to say. It is exactly what I was expecting. It was Russian roulette which test flight blew up.” Wow.
It has also emerged that a number of the company’s senior executives – including its vice president in charge of propulsion, its vice president in charge of safety, and its chief aerodynamics engineer – resigned from their positions in recent months.
The future of Virgin Galactic’s space flight program is currently unclear, with founder Richard Branson saying that it will only continue if the causes behind the crash can be identified and fixed.
At a press conference in California yesterday, Branson made a heartfelt statement honouring the pilots for their bravery, and expressed a continued desire to push humanity into space.
“It is a horrible day for Virgin Galactic, for commercial space travel – it’s a massive setback,” he said. “But we’ve got to pick ourselves up and see whether the problem is fixable, and hopefully [move] forward.”
“We would love to finish what we started some years ago,” he continued. “We owe it to our test pilots to find out exactly what went wrong, and once we’ve found out what went wrong, if we can overcome it, we’ll make absolutely certain that the dream lives on.”
“In testing the boundaries of human capabilities and technologies, we are standing on the shoulders of giants. Yesterday, we fell short. We will now comprehensively assess the results of the crash and are determined to learn from this and move forward together as a company.”
Concluding his remarks, Branson said that: “I truly believe that humanity’s greatest achievements come out of our greatest pain. This team is a group of the bravest, brightest, most determined and most resilient people I have ever had the privilege of knowing.” 
“We are determined to honour the bravery of the pilots and teams here by learning from this tragedy. Only then can we move forward, united behind a collective desire to push the boundaries of human endeavor.”
The man killed in Friday’s crash has since been named as Michael Alsbury, an experienced test pilot and father of two. 

Photo: Josh Edelson via Getty Images