Virgin Galactic crash: Descent system 'deployed early'
A safety device on the Virgin Galactic spacecraft that crashed on Friday killing a test pilot had been deployed early, US investigators say.
Air safety chief Christopher Hart said the "feathering" device, designed to slow the craft on re-entry, activated without a command from the pilots.
But he said it was too soon to confirm any possible cause of the crash.
Media reports had focused on the fuel tanks and the engine, but Mr Hart said both were found intact.
Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson accused a "handful of British newspapers" of publishing "wild accusations" over the crash.
He said initial findings from US investigators had shown reports that suggested problems with the fuel or engine had caused an explosion were "garbage".
"Rumours and innuendo from self-proclaimed experts can be put back in their box," he told the BBC.
Virgin Galactic had aimed to send tourists into space early next year, and has already taken more than 700 flight bookings at $250,000 (£156,000) each.
Richard Branson attacks British newspapers over "wild accusations" about Virgin Galactic spacecraft crash
Galling, isn't it, Sir Richard, when you know that the newspapers are telling lies?
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