The lone survivor of the Virgin Galactic Ltd. crash is out of the hospital and telling a harrowing story of how he was flung from the spacecraft and only saved when his parachute automatically deployed, SIA reports quoting the Bloomberg.
With the ship about nine miles above Earth, pilot Peter Siebold said the craft broke apart around him and he was ejected into the thin, subfreezing air still strapped to his seat. As he was falling, Siebold unbuckled himself “at some point” before the parachute opened, according to a recounting of events released today by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.
Siebold, who spoke to NTSB investigators Nov. 7 about the test flight of Richard Branson’s SpaceShipTwo, said he wasn’t aware that co-pilot Michael Alsbury had unlocked a braking system earlier than procedures allowed. The NTSB said that system, known as a feather, opened seconds before SpaceShipTwo disintegrated over the California desert. Alsbury was killed.
Siebold’s survival was “extremely remarkable” after being heaved into that inhospitable environment, said Jeff Sventek, an aerospace physiologist who is executive director of the Alexandria, Virginia-based Aerospace Medical Association.
“I can’t imagine the forces he must have experienced being thrown out of the aircraft,” Sventek, who spent 31 years in the U.S. Air Force, said in an interview.