Branson wants answers on rocket deaths

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson said he is determined to find out what went wrong during a test flight of his prototype space tourism rocket after one pilot died and another was injured in an accident.

Billionaire Mr Branson told a press conference in Mojave, California, that safety has always been the top priority of the programme.

Mr Branson, who saluted the bravery of test pilots, did not discuss any details of yesterday’s accident and deferred to the investigation just getting under way by experts from the National Transportation Safety Board.

Mr Branson said he will continue his Virgin Galactic space programme after the fatal test flight crash, saying millions of people “would one day love the chance to go to space”.

The billionaire British tycoon said any would-be astronauts who had paid the €190,000 cost of a seat would get a refund if they wanted one.

But he added: “We would love to finish what we started some years ago and I think pretty well all our astronauts would love us to finish and would love to go into space.

“I think millions of people in the world would one day love the chance to go to space and this is the start of a long programme.”

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