Press Release

Space Frontier Foundation Mourns Loss of Scaled Composites Workers – Urges NewSpace to Continue Forward

By SpaceRef Editor
July 31, 2007
Filed under , ,

Los Angeles, CA – The members of the Space Frontier Foundation offer their deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who were lost and hurt yesterday at Scaled Composites. The organization honors them all, and shares in the shock and sorrow that has swept the NewSpace movement and the entire space community. 

The accident, which occurred yesterday afternoon in Mojave, California during a fueling test, killed three Scaled employees and critically injured three others. According to reports from the scene, the test involved ongoing work to develop SpaceShipTwo – a vehicle designed to carry paying customers into space for Virgin Galactic.

“Burt Rutan and his team include some of America’s best aerospace test engineers.  Whatever the cause of this tragic event was, they will get to the bottom of it, fix the problem, and then make their spaceship fly,” said James Muncy, Co-Founder of the Foundation and a space policy consultant in Washington, D.C.  “It will be the best possible way to honor their sacrifice.” “Some of us think of space heroes as only those who strap themselves into a rocketship,” said Rick Tumlinson, fellow Co-Founder. “But people like these, who give their sweat and lives to build those ships, who take their families out to live in the desert and work incredible hours on tedious tasks to make those rockets fly, and who do so because they share the dream of an open frontier in space, they too are true heroes.”

The Foundation is itself made up largely of people who work in the NewSpace field or support the efforts of such firms as Scaled and others building private commercial space systems. The group, and the rest of the industry, has anticipated such disasters, and urges the government to see them in the context of a broader and important move to open space that serves the people of the nation and the world.

“The NewSpace movement isn’t about some rich people flying in spaceships. It isn’t about who can build the best rocket the fastest, or make the most money,” said Bob Werb, the Foundation’s Chairman. “It is about a dream we all share to open space to all humanity. We are a family of dreamers, and the pain any of us feel is felt by all.”

The Foundation is urging the movement, regulators and government to work together to investigate the issues at hand, solve any problems found, and move ahead as quickly and as safely as possible. “Scaled Composites will recover and the NewSpace industry will continue its inexorable steps into the Solar System,” said Jeff Krukin, the group’s Executive Director. “Indeed, the strength and resilience of this industry have been demonstrated countless times as entrepreneurial determination has overcome many obstacles, and so it will again at this most trying time.”

“We are reaching for the stars, and it is not easy. Accidents happen. Good people die. And we move on. We move on to reach the goal they died for, because to do less would be to dishonor them and their sacrifice, concluded Tumlinson. “Tonight, in dark skies above Mojave, there are three new stars. Let us wipe our tears, pick up our wrenches and tools and get back to work, and now and then as we move ahead in this quest, look up to them and smile – as they are smiling at us.”

The Space Frontier Foundation is an organization of people dedicated to opening the Space Frontier to human settlement as rapidly as possible. Our goals include protecting the Earth’s fragile biosphere and creating a freer and more prosperous life for each generation by using the unlimited energy and material resources of space. 

SpaceRef staff editor.