Virgin Galactic Claims NTSB Findings Vindicate SS2 Design

I dunno about that. The NTSB was tasked with finding the probable cause of SpaceShipTwo’s destruction last October. I saw nothing in what’s been released indicating that NTSB evaluated the soundness of SpaceShipTwo’s design. Perhaps it will be in the final report that will be released in a few weeks.

I thought NTSB was tasked with discovering the cause of the crash and making safety recommendations based on what it found. I didn’t think it had authority to go into whether the overall design is sound.

The FAA AST, which oversees the industry (apparently poorly), doesn’t have that authority. Under law, its mandate is to protect the uninvolved public. Spacecraft are licensed, not certified. The whole point of the informed consent regime and the learning period is to allow companies to evaluate different designs, technologies and approaches. The FAA can’t come in and determine what’s sound and what isn’t unless and until there’s an accident.

I’ll wait for the final report to see if there’s any analysis of the overall ship design. But, I doubt that was on the NTSB’s agenda.