Billionaire Richard Branson’s dream of sending paying passengers into space may now lay in pieces across California’s Mojave Desert, after the Virgin Galactic space ship crashed during a test flight. The co-pilot died and the pilot suffered severe injuries.
The space ship crashed just months before the British entrepreneur planned to be on board, but Branson said he is still determined to be the first passenger.
Air accident investigators have yet to establish the exact cause of the disaster. There are also questions over the financial viability of the ambitious space tourism project. Branson’s Virgin Group has been funding the venture out of its own pocket, but the key outside partner and financier is an Abu Dhabi investor.
According to a Financial Times report, launch delays have left the venture without sources of revenue.
Virgin Galactic had hoped to start taking the first of about 700 pre-booked passengers into space next spring, who have paid $250,000 each. That timetable is now likely to be revised.
CCTV America’s Owen Fairclough reports.
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