Wings Deployed Prematurely Before SpaceShipTwo’s Crash
The National Transportation Safety Board is reporting that SpaceShipTwo’s wings deployed prematurely at approximately Mach 1.0 before breaking apart in flight.
The wings were supposed to be raised into the “feathering” position to create drag and reduce speed at Mach 1.4 or later but it was determined the wings moved before hitting the correct speed and without full pilot input.
While this error may have contributed to the crash, the NTSB is still gathering details and not yet ready to declare the cause of the accident.
NTSB acting chair Christopher Hart says, “We have months and months of investigation to determine what the cause was. We’ll be looking at training issues; we’ll be looking at [whether there was] pressure to continue testing; we’ll be looking at safety culture, the design, the procedure. We’ve got many, many issues to look into much more extensively before we can determine the cause.”