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Law enforcement officers take a closer look at the wreckage near the site where a Virgin Galactic space tourism rocket, SpaceShipTwo, exploded and crashed in Mojave, Calif. on Nov 1, 2014.
Ringo H.W. Chiu—AP

The investigation into the Virgin Galactic spacecraft that crashed and killed one person during a test flight in California on Friday could take a year, a leading U.S. safety official said.

Christopher Hart, the acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said late Saturday Virgin Galactic could still conduct test flights during the investigation of the SpaceShipTwo crash, which also injured one other person, the BBC reports.

A second spacecraft that has been under construction for the past three years is 65% complete, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides told the Financial Times. The spacecraft could be ready for flight next year, after the company finds out how SpaceShipTwo’s crash came about.

Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson said that he is “determined to find out what went wrong” with the crash. Hart said the debris from the crash was spread over an area of file miles in the Mojave desert.

The surviving pilot, 43-year-old Peter Siebold, is “alert and talking with his family and doctors,” according to Scaled Composites, the aerospace company for which both pilots worked. Investigators will interview him about the crash when his doctors give the green light.


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