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tv   CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin  CNN  October 31, 2014 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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case, if it's someone that sounds like you have confirmation, which is a really bad day. i don't really know what else to say about that. i think that's what we need to concentrate on and as far as setback goes, if that information is accurate, that's probably going to be quite a setback. >> your heart is sinking. my heart is sinking. nasa astronaut on the phone with me reacting to the tragic news today. welcome to our viewers here in the united states and all around the world as we have now confirmed at least one of the pilots onboard this virgin galactic space ship 2 as died and the other pilot is suffering major, major injuries. these are live pictures from mojave, california. as we learned from virgin galactic which is sir richard branson's company in california. huge excitement over what could
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be this flight. 62 miles out to suborbital orbit just to the edge if they can pay for that ticket to get onboard this spacecraft, they could experience the awe that is space. weightlessness. you can see what that really is like and so now we are experiencing a tragedy which in the wake of the rocket that exploded six seconds after takeoff a couple days ago is certainly tough to swallow for anyone who loves space. i have a former washington post reporter and author who has followed the development of this particular program. this virgin galactic program. when you look at these pictures here, pieces of presumably this space ship 2 here in the desert and we now have the news that at least one of the pilots has died. it's tough news to swallow. >> actually, yes, brooke.
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i'm quite heartbroken. i knew both of these pilots very, very well. they were both engaged with the predecessor program to the virgin galactic program and that was the space ship 1 program which was funded by microsoft co-founder paul allen and that was the program that won the $10 million xprize in 2004 and many people may remember that we were just celebrating the tenth anniversary of the winning of that prize earlier this month on october 4th. and people were say, hey, it's been ten years since that prize was won with space ship 1. look at what happened. virgin galactic was the wonderful result of that achievement and look at what virgin is about to become and
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now today we have this unbelievable, unbelievable tragedy that seems to have taken the life of one of these young pilots. and i am absolutely devastated to learn that someone has died in this tragedy. >> joel, i hear the emotion in your voice as a journalist you are helping us cover this but knowing these two individuals and we won't name them. i don't know if their families have been identified. we're focused so much and we talk about passion of sir richard branson and i have to imagine and i'm sure you can share the passion of anyone working on this project, right, wanting to be the first to take these space tourists up 62 miles out. tell me more about what you know about these pilots.
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>> both of them were test pilots. this is what they signed on to do which is to be the people who take the risk for the rest of us so we know these vehicles are safe and ready for commercial flight, for commercial operation. of course this was the first time that virgin galactic space ship had gone into a powered flight in more than nine months. the space ship's last powered flight was in january of this year and after that there was the realization on the part of virgin galactic that the rocket engine that they were using really had some very difficult insurmountable problems and they
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would have to rethink the way they were approaching the flight to space and so they shut things down for a long time looking for a different solution. that is why they sort of have been dormant and people were quite excited because they thought that they had found the solution that was going to allow them to get the vehicle much higher so that they can give customers this amazing experience that they had been promising for so long now. i think the first time richard branson promised people that they would be flying into suborbital space was back in 2007 and here we are still in test flight and people were starting to get frustrated. i know that the people who were working on the program were feeling that frustration and feeling the pressure to get the
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spaceship back up into powered flight and prove that the program was moving forward and that they were making progress. this was the first attempt at putting a rocket engine back in a spaceship and getting it on powered flights and as we have now seen, this attempt was tragically, tragically wrong and there are eyewitness accounts. i have spoken with people who were right there this morning waiting to witness the power flight and they had their eye right on it. >> so there were witnesses who saw what happened over the skies of mojave, california? >> absolutely. this was a big deal.
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this was the first attempt in nine months and whenever you have something like this happen, there is a lot of concern for flight safety and a lot of concern -- it is rocket science for a reason. it's not easy. there were a lot of people who were worried about this new approach that virgin galactic was taking with this new engine so there were people who were specifically out there with long range telescopes and lenses and with their eyes trained in the sky and they saw absolutely every second of what happened and they reported when white knight 2, which is this launch airplane that they used to get
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the spaceship up to 50,000 feet, it drops off the spaceship which is nothing more than a glider airplane with a rocket attached. they drop it off the mothership they call it and it is a glider until it lights off that rocket and once it lights off that rocket, the pilots' job is to steer that spaceship into a vertical position and head straight up so that all of the rocket power forces it up and out of the atmosphere. and in this case, they dropped it and as is supposed to happen, the pilots inside countdown three, two, one, arm and fire and that is what happened and they fired and the rocket did light and it burned for approximately two seconds. and then the rocket stopped. and immediately everyone knew
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there was trouble because that's not supposed to happen and it's an indicator of what's called a hard start and that's a very dangerous thing and so the rocket stopped and then within one second it restarted and that is when it exploded. and the explosion came almost instantaneously and pieces of spaceship were raining out of the sky. there was a pilot who was able apparently to eject via parachute on his way down and escape the wreckage and another pilot unfortunately was unable to do so and there were three different debris fields scattered across mojave. huge debris fields because it blew up at 50,000 feet in the
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air. you can imagine the debris is scattered quite a distance across the desert. we don't know exactly who survived and who died at this stage and we also don't know what caused the engine to start and stop and start again. but it's clear that if that is in fact -- if the eyewitness accounts are correct and my understanding is that there is plenty of camera foot aage of ts event it show that's what happened. but if that is in fact what happened, you know, it's a hard start and it was all over. they had no chance. >> joel glenn brenner, you are invaluable as we talk to you about what you're hearing and certainly in the coming hours we'll begin to hear those
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eyewitness accounts as people -- this was as you point out nine months in the making to see this happening over mojave and really just the position of what we've been looking at on the left side of the screen, the dreams, hopes, future of this program of space ship 2 and what you look at now pieces of this spaceship on the desert floor. i have richard qwest standing by. our aviation correspondent. go ahead. do you have any questions for joel? >> joel, the issue of the engine, which you brought to us and put into perperspective, th has been the issue that has bedevilled the spaceship since it went into powered flight to get the thing powerful and get the thrust into orbit in that short period of time. they've had terrible trouble. can you hear me, joel?
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>> richard qwest is asking me -- >> are you there? >> we have richard qwest on tv. he's got a question for you if you can pay attention pretty please. >> are you with me, joel. >> you were asking me about the engine giving them a hard time. what did you want to know? >> this is the crux of the issue. every time i have spoken to sir richard or any people involved, the enthusiasm for the project and viability of the project but it's always founded on this engine and the ability of the engine to get the craft into suborbit. >> well, this is a very difficult topic. there has been a tremendous amount of enthusiasm shown by the people at virgin galactic and absolutely by sir richard
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himself. without question they have been extremely enthusiastic and extremely confident in their ability to do what they set out to do. i have been following this story closely to let people understand where i fit into this whole picture. i was invited by paul allen who fundedsh spaceship 1 and underwrote the development of that amazing program to come inside and document the development of spaceship 1. i was a random house author at the time. former "the washington post" reporter and i had an incredible gift given to me to come inside and witness a moment in history
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like none other. a true kitty hawk moment in the development of that incredible spaceship which is now in the hall at the air and space museum. you can go and see it. i have been working to share the story of spaceship 1 in book form with the world and because of all of my contacts with folks that worked on spaceship 1, i kept up with everybody out in mojave and have watched and followed the development of virgin galactic's program. i have to tell you that the enthusiasm that's been shown outwardly by virgin galactic and by sir richard certainly does not match at all with the technology behind the scenes.
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there is a big gap there and has been for quite some time. i'll be documenting that. and it's a real problem. i will tell you this as well. this engine that exploded today even if they had had a successful flight and even if they had not stolen my friend's life, okay, they would not have ever gotten anywhere near space with this engine. okay. so i am here to say that they took this pilot's life and this engine still would not have gotten customers to space.
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>> right. >> i want people to know that now. and i am sure that virgin galactic will be very unhappy with me for telling the truth but it is time the truth be told because that is the truth. >> right. brooke, what joel is saying is extremely important because as anyone of us who have covered this story will attest, it's a constant pendulum between the enthusiasm and the can do and if you want to put it bluntly, the star trek nature of finally getting people into space.
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getting them into space versus extreme difficulties of doing so and joel talked about it te eloquently there. it's another issue. it's a spacecraft. there's a constant back and forwarding amongst regulators about how to proceed with this and how it should be done. >> that's why given what happened a couple days ago with different private entity, it's a punch in the gut as miles o'brien said. richard qwest, thank you so much and huge thank you to joel glenn brenner who was on the phone who was covering this particular program virgin galactic for a long, long time. it's not just about how this
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would have been and still could be the first official tourist space flight but a loss of life for at least one of these test pilots. she put it so eloquently in talking about these pilots know they are risking their lives every time they strap in to test a piece of equipment. this spaceship 2. sadly this happened today. a loss of one life and major injuries to another. quick break. we'll be right back. nineteen years ago, we thought, "wow, how is there no way to tell the good from the bad?" so we gave people the power of the review. and now angie's list is revolutionizing local service again. you can easily buy and schedule services from top-rated providers. conveniently stay up to date on progress.
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♪yeah, you do the walk of life need to lower your blood sugar? ask your doctor about farxiga and visit our website to learn how you may be able to get every month free. breaking news. if you are just joining us here, there was an anomaly according to virgin atlantic and spaceship
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2 was supposed to take people on suborbital flight. a number of passengers perhaps in the coming months if you could afford the $250,000 ticket to do so. sadly today just this morning there was clearly an accident and we have confirmed one of the pilots has died and the other suffering major injuries and let me read this for you. this is new. we got this statement into cnn from the faa. "just after 10:00 this morning pacific time ground controllers at the mojave space port lost contact with spaceship 2. the incident occurred over the mojave desert. shortly after the spaceship vehicle separated from white knight 2. the vehicle that carried it aloft. two crew members were aboard spaceship 2 at the time of the
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incident. white knight 2 remained airborne after the incident. the faa is investigating." that's what we have from the faa. we're seen people on the ground amid scattered debris. i have a nasa astronaut on the phone with me here to talk about the tragedy that's unfolded here in mojave, california. michael, as you look at this and this loss of life, it's so incredibly sad. >> yeah. this is pretty bad. and i really don't know what to say. reminds me of when we had our accident in 2003 when we lost "columbia" and it's just a really bad day. bad for everyone involved and
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particularly for the family. for a lot of people it's a nightmare. when we lost columbia, it's the worst day of my life and i wonder who we lost today. it's just a bad day. >> it's a bad day as one of these test pilots has died and another suffering major injuries and sir richard branson at the helm of this project well aware of the risks involved to get this first space tourism flight off the ground. cnn talked to him just recently. this was his response when asked about the risks. >> i think it's the start of a new space race. it's not been easy. it's taken us five years more than we thought it would take. but finally they pulled it off. >> do you ever fear that maybe you are putting too much at risk with this? >> people risk a lot to get space off the ground in the first place. unless you risk something, the
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world stays still. >> that was poppy harlow when she visited mojave desert within the last year talking to richard branson about this. you have explained how spaceship 2 was carried out via this vehicle white knight. white knight is a-ok. we see the pieces of spaceship 2 on the desert, it's clearly not. we were making a point that people may not realize, not only was this supposed to be the first tourism flight, sir richard branson was hoping for more. >> he was hoping this would lead to point to point travel so being able to get from new york to australia in an hour. this is really virgin galactic was just the beginning of this technology of these suborbital flights. it's a huge blow to the entire travel industry in that they were trying to move things
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faster, further, andvastated ri. >> richard qwest is with me. we were talking to a woman by the name of joel glenn brenner. clearly as a journalist who covered this program since its inception was pretty broken up. she qualified these pilots as her friends and these are test pilots. they knew what they were walking into every time they strapped into the spaceship. i was asking you if we knew if they had parachutes as they were up there. this is just according to her, working to confirm all this, there are multiple debris fields and that one of these pilots was able to object and he's cape via parachute but the other sadly did not. >> forgive me. i was listening to a question.
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i'm not sure if that was referring to me or to rachel. yes. i was very surprised with what joel was just saying. i can understand the depth of what she's talking about as for the debris field that you refer to, we do know a lot about how debris fields expand the higher the aircraft and this particular craft will have been released at about 50,000 feet from white knight 2 which is the mothership. that's the craft that carries spaceship 2 as high as it can do and releases the spaceship and that ignites its own rocket but that rocket has one purpose and one purpose only. it's to give the craft the thrust and lift to defeat the earth's gravity to get it into
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suborbit and that's all it does. thereafter, spaceship 2 acts similar to how the shuttle behaved. they are flying gliders. they do what they have to do. you have three, four, six minutes of weightlessness and then you prepare to come back and the idea was the passengers would go back into their seats and reharness up and re-entry pros wcess would take place ande spaceship would become a plane and glide down but from what joel's sources tell her, this may well have broken up at 50,000 feet. this is the exact opposite of a crash landing. you would expect a very wide debris field. the faa, ntsb, nasa, all of the investigating authorities will now be there. probably ntsb takes primary and
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they'll examine every single aspect to find out what happened. >> joel glenn brenner is with us on the phone. she's been incredibly eloquent in explaining her friends, the pilots, what her sources are telling her explaining this entire program and so my question to you here a also realizing for our viewers as we learn about this together, this was something you mentioned that's been nine months in the making. there were people who were there and huge anticipation of this spacecraft for having this successful test flight and sadly that didn't happen. what are you hearing from people on the ground in mojave? how did they describe what they saw? >> i can tell you exactly
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because i got the phone calls immediately after the explosion and got an eyewitness account as it was taking place. my friends were at a place near mojave called jaw bone canyon. they wanted to get the best view of the rocket as it lit off and you have a great view there and they had their cameras on spaceship at the time and they were the ones that reported that the engine basically started and stopped and pieces of the
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spaceship raining down on the desert and they saw debris down in the areas of the lake -- i don't want to estimate but if you pull up google maps, you'll see it clearly on the maps and you'll see jaw bone canyon and they also said that they were rushing to the crash site afterward and they came upon a fedex driver who says that he had debris that rained down behind his truck and another driver had come down on the road that he was on and that road was going to the town of cantil so
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all four of these people headed to the biggest area where the dust leapt up and because that seemed to be the most likely place where they might find the survivor and unfortunately they did not find a survivor but they did find a body at that site and it was one of the pilots and he was still strapped in to his ejection seat but of course the body was not fully intact and they did not disturb him. he was beyond being rescued and
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they said that even in the part of the desert where they were, the debris pieces were so widespread that it was obvious to them that it was going to be quite a bit of work for the police and for ntsb and other investigators to do because it was like when "columbia" rained down over texas. it's unbelievable to track where everything is. and so that's their eyewitness version. the fedex driver was an ex-marine and he did some tours in iraq and he was quite
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disturbed obviously being caught in this. he had no idea this was going on and my friends were able to explain to them what this is all about. they didn't have any idea. it's quite disturbing and quite frightening and everyone's worst nightmare i have to tell you. we have been talking a little bit today about setbacks and what this means for the future and now i have to tell you that i believe sincerely that this is the end for customers in space
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on virgin galactic any time soon because they don't have a vehicle anywhere near completion. you know, i don't see them at least being able to carry anybody into space in the next ten years. there's no way. they have a second spaceship they say they've been working on but i don't think it's maybe more than 25%, 30% complete at best. that's where things stand. there are some other companies of course who are trying to do it and i can't speak for them but i can speak for virgin galactic and that is that they do not have a second spaceship in the wings to pull out and say we'll try it again.
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this really marks the end for what they can do. >> i'm so -- >> it's tragic. really tragic. >> i'm stuck on the image that you describe in the desert of these people coming upon this pilot and it is horrendous all of the way around. all of the way around. we are going to take a quick break here. joel glenn brenner, thank you so much again for staying with us and helping us with our coverage of what has now unfolded as a tragedy in the mojave desert in california. one pilot onboard virgin galactic spaceship 2 has died and another suffering major injuries after what was supposed to be a successful test flight clearly was not. we've got new information. we have to take a quick break. more on our breaking news. stay right here. you're driving along,
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breaking news here. representing the hopes and dreams of what is virgin galactic in this idea of having passengers onboard this spacecraft, this spaceship 2 that would take people if they could pay $250,000 to go up to suborbital flight to feel weightlessness before gliding
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back down to earth. right side of your screen. this is california as we now know faa is investigating this abnormality is what the word that virgin galactic is using. one pilot has died and the other is suffering serious injuries. stephanie elam is with me in los angeles not too far from mojave, california. what do we know? what's happening right now in the desert? i talked to a reporter who says there are three separate debris fields. >> even from what we're seeing, you can see how far it is spread out in the high desert. the investigation is going on. the faa will look into what's going on and try to piece together what went wrong. that's very important but secondary to the point there was
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a loss of life. we're getting that confirmation from the faa that these two crew members were there and they lost contact with the ground connection and they knew something was wrong there according to what we've been seeing and hearing and that's when this tragedy happened. i'm preparing to head out to the desert to get an idea of how it looks. it's remote where they are for this very reason because they are doing this test and there's nothing else out there. it's very remote. we'll go out there and see what we can find out. >> we'll look for your reporting throughout the next couple hours here on cnn from mojave, california. again, this is something that i was talking about with one of the astronauts a moment ago. this has been a horrible week. you have what happened today and then you have this this happened just three days ago.
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this rocket exploding mid air. this was tuesday night along the eastern virginia coast. it went up in flames seconds after it took off. it was destroyed after a serious anomaly. another nasa official saying this is "a really tough tough business" and between that and what we're seeing here, it could be a huge setback. rachel has been with me through our coverage. she's one of our correspondents who has been to this area of mojave desert and recently hosted a panel with sir richard branson and ceo of virgin galactic. i'm curious as we talk about the risks, certainly they were aware. >> certainly. i think any aerospace insider is very quick to point out that space travel is difficult. this is a very hard industry to be in. it's a hard industry to innovate
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in. this is an industry that's trying to emerge so a blow like this, a death like this, is just devastating to this industry. they hoped to send paying passengers into space in the next couple months. originally this was supposed to be in 2007. richard branson said it would be this winter. now on a late night talk show he said it would be in february or march of next year. he was going to bring his whole family. they would pay $250,000. over 700 people have signed up to go on these flights. the public's perception of the private's sector's ability to take on the responsibility of space travel and space flight is certainly tarnished. as you said, what's happened with orbital science and now virgin galactic is a big blow to
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the aerospace industry. >> i think we can't explain enough and you explained this perfectly before for people to understand this spaceship 2. it rides on top of the mother ship. >> white knight 2 takes off and around 50,000 people space ship 2 drops and a rocket boosts it into suborbital flight and they collide down like a glider like an airplane back down to the space port. where this accident happened is not where flights are scheduled to take off once they are carrying paying passengers. that would be in new mexico. i was just there two weeks ago. they are excited for flights to take off. the workers were working quickly putting finishing touches on the facility which the facility itself is absolutely incredible. it's a quarter of a billion
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dollar facility in the middle of the desert and they have to be devastated that this occurred. >> to hear joel, she knows these pilots, but also to hear her talking about how she feels like now that spaceship 2 is in pieces on the ground of the desert, she's saying she feels like this is the end. how do you feel with your knowledge? >> i wouldn't say this is the end of virgin galactic. they are incredibly spirited about getting to space and this spaceship 2, i was at the manufacturing facility where they were creating this spaceship 2. they were in the midst of creating others as well. other spaceships 2. there were to be two ready to fly. obviously this is incredibly devastating. if you know the spirit of richard branson, he's not one to give up and i think he's going to persevere.
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i think george is going to persevere. he's the ceo of virgin galactic and richard branson i'm sure will be the first person on his flight into space and i would imagine that at least half of those passengers will stick with it once they see the safety precautions are taken. >> rachel, stay with me. we have to take a quick break from our breaking news. we'll be back in just a moment. we just sat down with richard branson recently hitting home this notion of, yes, he was planning on taking a ride on spaceship 2 with his family but, yes, he was also very, very well aware of the risks involved in this. we'll hear from him next. you do a lot of things great. but parallel parking isn't one of them. you're either too far from the curb. or too close to other cars... it's just a matter of time until you rip some guy's bumper off. so, here are your choices: take the bus. or get liberty mutual insurance. for drivers with accident forgiveness, liberty mutual won't raise your rates due to your first accident.
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you're watching cnn. i just want to report some news. i just got a text from a dear friend of mine who works for richard branson. she's telling me that richard branson is en route. he's en route to mojave california. he was here weeks ago with my colleague, poppy harlow. he talked specifically about the risks involved in this -- what would be the first space tourism project, this trip to suborbital flight that he was hoping for at some point early 2015. take a listen. >> virgin galactic has been the toughest company i've ever had to launch.
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because it is rocket science and building rockets at the size that we need to build have been tougher than we actually thought. we have 200 of the best engineers and technicians building them. now we're beginning the final stages of test flights in-flight. by the end of this year, we will have actually gone into space. >> the faa has signed off on you doing these test flights, which are in the midst of. but what about the final sino signoff? >> it's a process we've gone through over the last two or three years. >> and this is a first for them as well? >> absolutely. it's a fascinating process for everyone involved. i'm not going to take my son into space until i'm obviously sure we've got everything right. and the team won't let me either. and we feel very confident that
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things are on the right track and that we should get faa approval early next year. >> confident everything is on the right track. sadly, as we see here on the right side of the screen, pieces of spaceshiptwo of virgin galactic, everything not all right right now. richard branson en route to mojave to the scene. i have leroy chow on the phone who's a nasa astronaut. you penned an opinion piece for cnn.com mere days ago in the wake of that unsuccessful rocket launch unmanned a lufl days ago and how that this -- it was a painful bump in the road for space and now you couple of that with this tragic accident here in california. your reaction, sir? >> right. obviously this is a serious
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setback and unfortunately it appears there's been loss of life in this accident. but i want to dress this was the development of a program with a new propulsion system. and unfortunately in the development of this, the risks are higher than certainly operational vehicles. so mishaps like this unfortunately do occur. as far as the impact on commercial space, we will get through this, too. as i said in any major development program, there's a pretty good risk of mishaps like this. >> you wrote in this piece, by their nature, rockets and rocket engines are unforgiving, containing complex components which must work correctly to get into space. when we talk about setbacks -- again, you can hear the enthusiasm when richard branson recently said, this would happen
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early 2015, obviously it doesn't take you back to zero. but how much does it take you back? >> well, it's less of a setback for the industry but certainly a significant setback for virgin. the vehicle is built under contract by virgin and being developed and tested -- flight tested. and this was one of those flight tests. they've already done several flight tests. unfortunately this one has gone terribly wrong. so it is a big setback. i agree with your previous guest. i don't think this is going to be ending for virgin galactic. it was a risk that there would be a serious accident during the test phase and unfortunately that has come to pass. >> let me ask you about these pilots. you have astronauts such as yourself, you have pilots and then you have those who are willing to risk lives to test out aircraft such as this. what kind of person does it take
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to be willing to do this? >> well, i would pretty much guarantee that the pilots on board and the pilots in the test program for this vehicle came from a military flying background, including training as a test pilot and then working or flying for the military in flight test capacity. so these pilots will be very experienced in high-performance vehicles. that's their job. this is what they do. >> we know that one pilot has died. we know, according to a reporter who has a lot of sources on the ground, because this launch was -- this takeoff was nine months in the making, just describing a pretty gruesome scene of how some people came upon this one pilot who, according to this woman, was still strapped in his seat. at least there were parachutes, according to her reporting. the other pilot was able to use
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the parachute and escape. that is the pilot that is severely injured. ler leroy, thank you so much for weighing in on this tragedy in mojave, california. rachel crain has been watching and is with me through all our coverage of this spaceshiptwo with virgin galactic. again, hearing -- this is still so early. we can never stress enough. the big question is why, what happened? we know that virgin galactic continues to use the word an anomaly, in-flight anomaly, what that means, what precisely happened, we know the faa is investigating. but we may not know for some time to come. >> right. at least right now, it's daybreak so they can be surveying the scene whereas just a couple of days with the orbital sciences explosion, it happened at night. so they had to wait to survey the scene.
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but virgin galactic recently changed their fuel. from a rubber of based fuel to a plastics-based fuel. no reason to believe that had anything to do with today's accident. but that is a change that had happened within the past nine months since the last test flight. >> this test flight, how often have they been sending spaceshiptwo up? >> this was actually the first major test for spaceshiptwo. >> it was? >> yes, it was. i was there a couple of months ago when they were actually putting it together. so i got inside spaceshiptwo as they were configuring it. i saw where the pilots would be sitting. there was no seat, but i pretended as though i was sitting. this is a major blow to spaceshiptwo, to virgin galactic and, of course, to the families of the pilots inside. so we don't know the details yet. hopefully they'll be illuminated soon enough. >> we'll get details on these pilots. we wish this pilot who has suffered major injuries -- just
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to imagine how far -- you heard with me, the reporter. >> 50,000 feet up. >> it happened -- the accident occurred right as spaceshiptwo was releasing -- >> separated? >> separating from white knight two. spaceshiptwo is then supposed to be launched and go 50 to 62 miles above earth so it reaches that suborbital flight and the passengers become astronauts so to say. but it didn't reach that height. and fell from 50,000 feet in the air. >> this is something we have heard a lot about. this is the flight where if you could pay that pretty penny of $250,000, hearing names -- he would never confirm the likes of steven hawkins and justin bieber and ashton kutcher, celebrities who could pay that ticket to experience for, as you point out, mere minutes of weightlessness and just really the awe. if you can't get through nasa
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training and become an astronaut, for us regular people -- >> this was our hope. >> thank you so much, rachel crain. i'm brooke baldwin. thank you so much for staying with us. stay with cnn. jake tapper will be all over a tragic, tragic day here in mojave, california. jake tapper, to you. welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. we're going to begin of course with the breaking news. in a week where we have already witnessed one fiery setback for the civilian space program, today another huge blow with much more serious consequences. at least one pilot has died after virgin galactic's spaceshiptwo crashed in california's mojave, desert. pieces of it could be spotted in this virtual no-man's-land. spaceshiptwo was the noes well known