Explosion at Virgin Galactic Motor Test Kills Three [UPDATED]

Illustration for article titled Explosion at Virgin Galactic Motor Test Kills Three [UPDATED]

[A third person has died. ]There's been a sad setback for Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic space tourism company yesterday: An explosion during a rocket motor test killed two people and injured another four.

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It's not clear exactly what happened, but sometime earlier today the nitrous oxide motor exploded on a remote pad at the Mojave Air and Space port, mangling an 18-wheeler and spewing debris hundreds of feet. It's not known who was killed or what effect this will have on Virgin Galactic's future, but we'll keep you updated. [CNN]

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DISCUSSION

A sad event for private enterprise. We really are poised at the beginning of the pioneering days of space travel. While governments have usually footed the initial bill (Columbus, Lewis & Clark, Apollo), it is usually private enterprise that steps in afterwards and makes the goals attainable to the masses (The Mayflower Company, the Continental Railroad, Virgin Galactic).

I don't see Richard Branson as the kind of person who would pick up his toys and leave after something like this. My money is on him redoubling his investment and efforts into Virgin Galactic now.

May God bless those lost and injured, and their families.