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Virgin Galactic didn't prepare for human error ahead of SpaceShipTwo crash, NTSB

S'toon

Knows where his towel is
Apr 23, 2015
3,702
3,748
AB
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board concluded Tuesday that the developer of a commercial spacecraft that broke apart over the Mojave Desert last year failed to protect against the possibility of human error, specifically the co-pilot's premature unlocking of a braking system that triggered the in-flight breakup of the vehicle.

In its recommendation, the board took pains to make clear that Scaled Composites, an aerospace company that has partnered with Virgin Galactic to develop the spacecraft, should have had systems in place to overcome the co-pilot's mistake.

NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart said he didn't believe the company took shortcuts that compromised the spacecraft's safety. Rather, he said, it didn't consider that the crew would make such a mistake.
"The assumption was these highly trained test pilots would not make mistakes in those areas, but truth be told, humans are humans," Hart said after the hearing's conclusion. "And even the best-trained human on their best day can make mistakes."

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Full article at:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/v...or-ahead-of-spaceshiptwo-crash-ntsb-1.3171381
 

Doug_G

Lead Moderator
Global Moderator
Apr 2, 2010
17,888
3,411
Ottawa, Canada
It's exactly the same sort of issue as unintended flap deployment in aircraft, with pretty much the same result (structural failure). There are ways to mitigate the risk. Presumably Scaled Composites has learned from this, and will have a look at other onboard systems to make sure other commonly-known failure modes are addressed.
 

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