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Virgin Galactic crash: Descent system 'deployed early'

November 3, 2014 5:08 pm

A safety device on the Virgin Galactic spacecraft that crashed on Friday killing a test pilot had been deployed early, US investigators say.

Air safety chief Christopher Hart said the “feathering” device, designed to slow the craft on re-entry, activated without a command from the pilots.

But he said it was too soon to confirm any possible cause of the crash.

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Media reports had focused on the fuel tanks and the engine, but Mr Hart said that both were found intact.

Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson accused a “handful of British newspapers” of publishing “wild accusations” over the crash.

He said initial findings from US investigators had shown reports that suggested problems with the fuel or engine had caused an explosion were “garbage”.

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