Three Die in Virgin Galactic Spaceship Test

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Three people are dead and three more injured in an explosion that occurred at a spaceport in the Mojave Desert. These were people from Scaled Composites, Burt Rutan’s outfit, the folks who won the X-Prize with Spaceship One, who in latter days have morphed into Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson’s as-yet-notional space tourism outfit. Apparently they were doing a fairly safe rocket motor test, and nobody quite knows what went wrong.

I don’t know why I find this so shocking. You build a spaceship, people are probably going to get hurt. I guess I thought of Scaled Composites as different, smarter and cheaper and safer than NASA — they were supposed to be the “fun” space initiative. Maybe it seems different when you’re dying for a bunch of future millionaire space tourists, instead of for science. Which is ridiculous, it’s equally sad either way.

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