Crash a 'major delay' to space plan

Crash a 'major delay' to space plan

The Virgin Galactic crash in California will lead to a “a major delay” to Richard Branson’s attempt to take tourists into space, an astrophysicist said today.

Such flights were “difficult and dangerous”, said Professor Tim O’Brien of Jodrell Bank Observatory.

But would-be astronaut John Goodwin, who has signed up to go into space, said he was still confident that he would eventually make the flight.

Both men were appearing on BBC1’s Breakfast programme.

Prof O’Brien said: “There will undoubtedly be a major delay now. This is difficult. This is dangerous. Something went wrong. This was the first flight using a new fuel, I believe.”

Mr Goodwin said: “I am confident that passenger flights will go ahead. What happened yesterday came as a huge shock. It stopped me in my tracks. I could have been one of those people killed yesterday.

“This is new territory. Inevitably there are going to be accidents. There are 300 brains in the Mojave Desert who will rectify the problem.”

He continued: “Eventually I will fly. Originally I had hoped to go in 2008. I have met a number of test pilots and my condolences go out to the relatives of the pilots involved yesterday. When you know the people, these things hit you harder.”

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