Virgin Galactic's Rocket Man
The ace pilot risking his life to fulfill Richard Branson’s billion-dollar quest to make commercial space travel a reality.
Stucky had piloted SpaceShipTwo on two dozen previous test flights, including three of the four times that it had fired its rocket booster, which was necessary to propel it into space. On October 31, 2014, he watched the fourth such flight from mission control; it crashed in the desert, killing his best friend. On this morning, Stucky would be piloting the fifth rocket-powered flight, on a new iteration of the spaceship. A successful test would restore the program’s lustre.
And a little note at the end, unrelated to the crash:
As it turned out, there had been a glitch in the gyros’ software; the manufacturer had issued a patch, but hadn’t indicated that it fixed a major problem, so Virgin Galactic hadn’t installed it.