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Stock photo. Brand new: lowest price The lowest-priced brand-new, unused, unopened, undamaged item in its original packaging where packaging is applicable. For his entire career as a pilot, he kept a logbook of all his flights, making notes if anything out of the ordinary happened-and it often did. He has flown airspace security missions over the Washington, DC, area and for presidential security details. See details. See all 3 brand new listings. On future flights, he wanted the co-pilot to announce when the spaceship had reached Mach 0.

That way, the pilot could anticipate transonic instability. The modifications paid off: he pushed through the transonic zone with ease. Kincheloe Award, named for an Air Force pilot who, in , became the first person to fly above a hundred thousand feet. The award was gratifying, but Stucky was even more pleased when his daughter Sascha came to Mojave to watch him fly. Her boyfriend, Jonathan, had recently decided to propose, and had visited Stucky to secure his blessing. Jonathan then urged Sascha to give her father a second chance. She agreed, and asked him to walk her down the aisle.

The next rocket-powered flight was scheduled for October 31, Stucky would remain on the ground this time. Siebold chose Mike Alsbury to be his co-pilot. Stucky was happy for Alsbury.

They had become close while working together on a classified project for Scaled Composites. For more than a year, they had kept a gruelling travel schedule, spending most weekdays away. It had been tough on Alsbury, who was married and had two kids, but he was pleased to have forged such a strong bond with Stucky. They shared meals, and Stucky enjoyed hearing Alsbury talk about his daughter and son. Once, back in Palmdale, Stucky accepted an invitation to throw the first pitch for Aerospace Aviation Night at the local minor-league baseball stadium. He worried about embarrassing himself, and Alsbury offered to meet him at the park one afternoon before the game, to practice.

By the time the October launch date was announced, SpaceShipTwo had completed eighteen captive-carry flights, thirty glide flights, and three rocket-powered flights. For the new flight test, Scaled Composites had installed a rocket motor of its own design, and planned to let it burn for thirty-eight seconds, with the goal of propelling SpaceShipTwo above a hundred and thirty thousand feet. After two or three more flights like that, they might be ready to take their first passengers—Branson and his two kids—into space.

Liam, a second grader, wanted to become a pilot. After saying good night to his kids, Alsbury fell asleep at nine. Stucky, who on that day would be assisting the test conductor in mission control, reached the airport at 4 a. At the hangar, things struck him as a bit disorderly: a sensor system in SpaceShipTwo had fuzzed out and was being replaced; the nitrous truck had come late, so the liquid inside it was too cold, and thermal blankets were now draped over the tank. Siebold, meanwhile, was pacing the tarmac in the dark. Siebold and Alsbury shouldered their parachutes and stepped into SpaceShipTwo.

Saling arrived at the airport with her children. They flew about a hundred and fifty miles northeast, alongside a craggy mountain range streaked with purple and green mineral deposits. After reaching Death Valley, and still ascending, they looped back toward the release point. Stucky, in mission control, was watching the cockpit video and listening over the radio as Siebold and Alsbury ran through their checklists.

The pilots flooded their masks with oxygen, in case of an emergency. Neither was wearing a pressure suit. Alsbury armed the release switch, and the spaceship dropped from WhiteKnightTwo.

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He fired the rocket. They were in the transonic zone.

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Everything was going well. Then Alsbury did something inexplicable.


He began reaching for a lever that controlled the locks on the feather. He checked the Machmeter on the main display screen, and saw that the speed was still below Mach 1. His body seized: without the locks in place, aerodynamic forces would push the feather up, creating a tremendous amount of drag and shredding the spaceship in midair. Siebold grunted in agony.

The audio feed stopped, and the video froze mid-frame. An engineer looked up from his console and gave Stucky a searching look. He raced to the roof, but streaks of clouds to the north obscured his view of the sky. Saling asked a friend to take Ainsley and Liam home. The breakup occurred twenty-five or so miles north of Mojave, at about forty-six thousand feet. In , a Marine F-8 Crusader pilot survived after ejecting at forty thousand feet into a thunderstorm, though his ears, nose, and mouth were oozing blood.

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In , an Air Force SR pilot bailed out at seventy-nine thousand feet. He was wearing a pressure suit, which saved his life. As SpaceShipTwo disintegrated, Siebold heard a loud noise as the wings, the tail booms, the rocket motor, and the cabin tore away from the cockpit. Miraculously, he slipped out of his seat, and moments later his parachute automatically deployed.

His eyes burned and he gasped for oxygen as he fell to Earth. He landed in a creosote bush near a dry lake bed. When E. His collarbone was broken, and his right arm, which was fractured, was bleeding through his flight suit. Stucky got into an airplane with another pilot and surveyed the crash site. Later, he returned in his S. One scrap of the spaceship landed on a golf course fifty miles away. Stucky returned to the crash site nearly every day for weeks, nominally searching for wreckage.

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In , he had watched a good friend, a Navy lieutenant, crash short of the runway at Edwards Air Force Base, killing himself and a crew member. In , another friend, a nasa test pilot, was doing acrobatic maneuvers when the cockpit canopy came loose and knocked her in the head; she crashed and died. But this was different.

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The business press began asking if Virgin Galactic would survive. Customers demanded refunds. Doug Messier, an aerospace blogger based in Mojave, published posts accusing Virgin Galactic of being cavalier about safety.

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You act horrified about unconfirmed testing schedules and yet never compare them to other manned rocket programs—either historical or planned. Stucky wondered if his days flying SpaceShipTwo were over. After the crash, Virgin Galactic took over the program fully from his employer, Scaled Composites. When test flights resumed, only Virgin Galactic pilots would be involved. Moses is a cheerful, hypereducated man with an Apollo-era flattop. He spent thirteen years with nasa before joining Virgin Galactic, in He has experienced the triumphs and the tragedies of spaceflight.