SpaceShipTwo Emergency Response Timeline

Siebold's parachute as found by Kern County Sheriff's Office personnel. (Credit: NTSB)
Pete Siebold’s parachute as found by Kern County Sheriff’s Office personnel. (Credit: NTSB)

Part 4.1 in a Series

October 31, 2014
Source: National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)

The following is a timeline put together by the NTSB chronicling the emergency response to the SpaceShipTwo accident on Oct. 31, 2014. The information was assembled from the multiple sources involved in the rescue of Scaled Composites pilot Pete Siebold. For clarity, I have added a key and removed the sources from which the individual events were drawn.



KCFD – Kern County Fire Department
ECC – KCFD Emergency Communication Center
KCSO — Kern County Sheriff’s Office
MHV – Mojave Air and Space Port
Scaled Base – Scaled Composites Mission Control (based at MHV)
Mercy Air — Air ambulance service (based at MHV)
NTPS – National Test Pilot School (based at MHV)
Joshua Approach – FAA Air Traffic Control Facility


Chief Cody – KCFD Assistant Chief Mike Cody
Chief Pendergrass – KCFD Battalion Chief Steve Pendergrass
SAR forces — Accident response units


SS2 – SpaceShipTwo
WK2 – WhiteKnightTwo
E300 – Extra EA300/L chase plane
KCFD H408 — KCFD rescue helicopter (based in Keene)
Tiger 1 — National Test Pilot School helicopter (based at MHV)
Mercy Air 14 — Mercy Air medevac helicopter (based at MHV)

All times Pacific Daylight (PDT)

6:30:00KCFD helicopter 408 UH-1H (H408) (N408KC) preflight accomplished and on standby in Keene, CA for launch scheduled at 0700
7:04:00KCFD Chief Cody advised KCFD H408 of delay in launch
8:40:00KCFD Chief Cody advised KCFD H408 takeoff scheduled for 0845 to 0900
9:19:00WK2/SS2 took off from MHV
10:07:18“Release, release, release” announced
10:07:36“Knock it off, knock it off, knock it off” announced
10:08:00KCFD Chief Pendergrass text messaged KCFD H408 pilot that vehicle launched but “cut it out, problems with something, they’re coming down”.
10:08:59Scaled Base asked E300 chase plane (N24GA) whether he had “a visual;” E300 replied “affirmative”
10:09:00KCFD Chief Pendergrass text messaged KCFD H408 pilot: “Get ready”
10:10:06E300 reported “one chute”
10:11:06Scaled Base asked E300 for an update; E300 replied “still on chute, base, we’re with the chute”
10:11:25Scaled Base asked if the E300 had a visual on the vehicle; E300 replied “we had it a minute ago;” he reported its altitude was below the parachute and that “the vehicle is on the deck now.”
10:11:45E300 requested SAR forces respond to the area of Koehn Lake; “it’s gonna be the just to the west side of the road that goes north of Koehn Lake.” Scaled Base copied that transmission and stated they “we’re working on that right now.”
10:12:30E300 declared himself the immediate on-scene commander and stated he had “one hour hang
 10:14:00Announcement to onlookers at MHV: “Today is a bad day. The spaceship should be here but it is not. There are no further details at this time.”
10:14:31Scaled Base reported “SAR forces are enroute. They have been notified.”
10:15:00E300 reported “And I did get a thumbs up from this chute.”
 10:15:25 Scaled Base asked for any evidence of a second parachute; E300 replied “negative.”
10:18:00KCFD Chief Pendergrass text messaged KCFD H408 pilot “launch, Kern 5”
10:18:021st photograph taken by crewmember of E300 chase plane showing survivor on the ground
10:20:00 MHV airport personnel departed MHV enroute to crash site
10:21:00Estimated coordinates of crash site were: N35 10 06, W117 53 09
10:23:00KCFD H408 dispatched by KCFD ECC
10:27:49 Scaled Base confirmed that SAR forces were enroute via air and ground
10:27:53 E300 reported just making another pass and see “still getting thumbs up from the ground there”
10:30:00 H408 departed Keene for coordinates supplied by ECC. Radio contact established with ECC at 1036.
10:30:03Scaled Base asked the E300 whether he had a location on the vehicle; E300 replied
10:33:19E300 reported no visual on air or ground SAR forces
10:38:00 Rescue 1 returning to fire station (after transporting EMT to NTPS)
10:38:25 E300 reported an estimated 30 minutes of fuel remaining and no sign of air or ground SAR forces
10:39:43Scaled Base reported a helo inbound from China Lake and asked E300 or WK2 to provide coordinates of the site
10:40:24E300 reported position as on the “China Lake 196, 22 miles”; Joshua approach copied and reported “Mercy Air” northbound out of Mojave towards your position and should be forces coming in from China Lake as well”
10:41:00National Test Pilot School UH-1N Huey (N212TP) “Tiger 1” departed MHV with EMT and NTPS doctor
10:41:25UH-1H Huey “Helo 408 or Tiger 8” (beacon code 1255) appeared on radar > 10 miles to SW of accident site
10:45:33NTPS Tiger 1 was 9.5 miles south of accident area
10:49:03NTPS Tiger 1 made visual contact with E300 who led to the survivor’s location
10:51:53NTPS Tiger 1 landed at survivor’s location
10:53:00E300 reported that the main cabin was thought to be west of the location of the survivor
10:53:10Scaled Base asked the E300 to guide the second helicopter to the site of the main cabin. E300 reported that the second helicopter had already landed and was near one of the tail pieces.
10:54:00“Military helicopter” landed at crash site
10:56:00One survivor identified; to be transported to Antelope Valley Hospital
10:56:00H408 landed at site of wreckage, site cleared by rescuer
10:56:35H408 landed at wreckage site
10:58:00H408 repositioned to site of survivor. Hoist rescue crew from H408 assessed patient and requested Mercy Air 14 for transport
11:04:00Main cabin found on Garlock/Red Rock Canyon Highway
11:04:58E300 notified Tiger 1 that “…you may be able to help us… we saw two people eject from the aircraft so they may not be inside that cabin… we may need to look for somebody who didn’t get a chute.”
11:06:12Mercy Air 14 seen on radar at 3000 ft. departing MHV
11:12:39Mercy Air 14 three miles south of survivor site
11:13:12NTPS Tiger 1 seen on radar at 2200 departing survivor site
11:15:00Mercy Air 14 landed at survivor site.
11:15:01Mercy Air 14 was in a “wide orbit” around survivor site to avoid other aircraft
11:16:25Mercy Air 14 landed at survivor’s location
11:23:00Mercy Air 14 was enroute to Antelope Valley Hospital
11:34:00KCFD H408 departed scene for Mojave Airport with one airport employee and hoist crew
11:53:00Mercy Air 14 arrived at Antelope Valley Hospital
11:55:00KCSO secured the scene
12:03:00KCFD H408 arrived at MHV
12:13:00Airport personnel arrived back at MHV

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