(NBC NEWS) Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane broke up and crashed during a test flight on Friday, killing one crew member and seriously injuring another, authorities said.
The catastrophic breakup came after the plane dropped away from its WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane and fired up its hybrid rocket engine, said Stuart Witt, CEO and general manager of the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. Debris was scattered across a two-mile swath of the desert floor north of Mojave, which is about 95 miles (150 kilometers) outside Los Angeles.
One of the two test pilots aboard the plane was killed, said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, who was among the officials dealing with the crash's aftermath. The pilot was identified Saturday as 39-year-old Michael Alsbury, who died at the scene, according to the Kern County Coroner’s Office.
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