Pilot Peter Siebold (R) and co-pilot Michael Alsbury (L) were flying Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo when it was lost in flight on Oct. 31, 2014. Alsbury, 39, died in the crash. (Virgin Galactic)
Peter Siebold, the Virgin Galactic pilot who survived a crash one week ago today, is described as 'pretty banged up' but has been released from the hospital.
“That he survived a descent of 50,000 feet is pretty amazing,” a veteran pilot says. That's a fall of about 10 miles.
His story is one in a long line of odds-defying feats of survival by elite test pilots, who by definition are unbelievable badasses. Much of the aerospace history of which these men are part took place in the deserts of Nevada and Southern California.
From the Los Angeles Times feature on Siebold:
The Virgin Galactic rocket plane had just broken the sound barrier and was shooting toward the heavens when it began disintegrating, battered by powerful aerodynamic forces.
The pilots were strapped into their seats as entire pieces were torn from SpaceShipTwo. At more than 10 miles high, with fingers no doubt numb from the cold, Peter Siebold somehow escaped from the hurtling wreckage.
Siebold, who had been flying Virgin Galactic's spaceships for a decade, had to rely on his experience and his instincts. He had a parachute but no spacesuit to protect him from the lethal environment as he plunged toward Earth at close to the speed of a bullet.
At almost twice the height of Mt. Everest, the air is dangerously thin and the temperature is about 70 degrees below zero. It was a real world case of survival in the face of disaster, like the movie "Gravity."
Siebold's co-pilot Michael Alsbury (39) was found dead, strapped into his seat in the wreckage. Between the two of them, Siebold and Alsbury had racked up some thirty years of experience, and thousands of hours of flight time.
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane disintegrated in mid-air after two tail stabilizers prematurely extended, federal investigators have said. The discovery shifted the focus of the probe into the fatal crash away from the craft’s rocket motor, as some analysts had originally suggested.
Robert Pearlman at Collectspace.com has more on the two pilots, and what is known about the crash.
Statements from Virgin Galactic on the accident are here.
Previously on Boing Boing:
• Virgin Galactic test flight crashes, one reported dead
• What happened to Virgin Galactic space plane
On Monday, we reported that for the first time, a plant seed had germinated on the moon, an early experiment to test whether food could someday be grown on the moon to feed residents of a lunar base. The cotton sprout was inside a canister on China’s Chang’e 4 lander that touched down on the […]
Starting Sunday evening, Jan. 20, 2019, North and South America will have a chance at seeing 2019’s only total lunar eclipse, from start to finish. Our Earth, Moon and Sun line up on Sunday night for the only total lunar eclipse of of the year. Catch it if you can.
A cotton seed has germinated on the moon. The sprout is inside a canister on China’s Chang’e 4 lander that touched down on the far side of the moon earlier this month. From The Guardian: Plants have been grown previously on the International Space Station, but this is the first time a seed has sprouted […]
These days, there isn’t much our iPhone camera can’t do – except feel like an actual phone. Despite years of steadily increasing resolution and image sensing technology, we’re still taking shots awkwardly with two hands, fumbling for the shutter button. Leave it to an avid photographer to design Shuttercase, a versatile iPhone case that solves […]
Still determined to keep those New Year’s health resolutions? If you’re going to stick with the exercise plan, it’s enough of a challenge to budget your time. No need for your financial budget to take a hit, too. Here’s a more convenient – and cheaper – alternative to a gym membership or Peloton bike: Two […]
Want a career in web design? It’s true that these days, most anyone can throw up a page or two. But for true workhorse web design, you’ll sometimes need to match the platform to the project. Enter the Complete Front-End Developer Bundle, an educational grand tour around the best tools for the web. For beginners, […]