LONDON: Virgin Galactic will continue its spacemission despite the crash of its space craft on Friday during a test flightover Mojave.
Virgin chief Sir Richard Branson has vowed to continue his space tourism venturedespite the fatal crash.
The founder of the Virgin Group said he was "shocked and saddened" bythe crash caused "by a serious anomaly" that killed one of the pilotsand left the other with serious injuries.
Branson however said he would "persevere" with space travel.
Branson had said earlier this year that its Space Ship Two will enter servicethis year and he would be onboard the space craft with his children.
Almost 700 people, including Tom Hanks, Leonardo Di Caprio and Angelina Jolie have paid between £125,000and £155,000 to book a two-hour journey on Virgin Galactic's Space Ship Two,which would include a planned five minutes of weightlessness.
Branson had said "Everybody who signs up knows this is the birth of a newspace programme and understands the risks that go with that. But every personwants to go on the first flight".
On Saturday, Branson said "Space is hard - but worth it. We will persevereand move forward together".
He said "This was the latest part of an extensive test flight program andthe 55th time SpaceShipTwo had flown. It was White Knight Two's 173rd flightand the 35th time Space Ship Two had flown freely. The testing program has alsoincluded extensive ground testing of all parts of the spaceship. We've alwaysknown that the road to space is extremely difficult - and that every newtransportation system has to deal with bad days early in their history".
Branson added he would "cooperate fully with all the authorities involvedin the investigation, and share more information when possible".
He quoted NASA which said "While not a NASA mission, the pain of thistragedy will be felt by all the men and women who have devoted their lives toexploration. Space flight is incredibly difficult, and we commend the passionof all in the space community who take on risk to push the boundaries of humanachievement".
Virgin Galactic CEO George White sides summed up by saying: "We owe it tothe folks who were flying these vehicles, as well as those who've been workingso hard on them, to understand this and to move forward. And that is what we'lldo".
Virgin Galactic said in a statement "Virgin Galactic's partner ScaledComposites conducted a powered test flight of Space Ship Two earlier today.During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the lossof the vehicle. The White Knight Two carrier aircraft landed safely. The VirginGalactic team is cooperating with our partners at Scaled Composites and theNational Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as well as local authorities".
Branson's plan was to carry out the first civilian space flight by the end ofthis year, reaching 62 miles above the Earth.
Branson had said earlier "The biggest worry I had was re-entry. Nasa haslost about 3% of everyone who's gone into space, and re-entry has been theirbiggest problem".