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Pilot recounts Virgin Galactic crash

By Peter Woodman

The pilot who survived last month's Virgin Galactic disaster has told investigators how he was thrown clear of the space craft as it broke up.

Peter Siebold (43) was unaware that the feathering system that controls descent had been unlocked early by co-pilot Michael Alsbury who was killed in the crash in the Mojave Desert in California, the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said.

"His description of the vehicle motion was consistent with other data sources in the investigation.

"He stated that he was extracted from the vehicle as a result of the break-up sequence and unbuckled from his seat at some point before the parachute deployed automatically," the organisation said.

Mr Siebold, a father of two, was seriously injured in the crash.

Virgin Galactic is building a replacement spaceship and says test flights could resume as early as next summer.

Giving an update of its investigation today, the NTSB said that the on-scene part of its probe had finished and that the wreckage of the spacecraft had been recovered and was being stored in a secure location for follow-on examination.

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