This three image combo photo shows the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo rocket separating from the carrier aircraft, left, prior to it exploding in the air, right, during a test flight on Friday, Oct. 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Kenneth Brown)
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A winged spaceship designed to take tourists on excursions beyond Earth's atmosphere broke up during a test flight over the Mojave Desert, killing a pilot in the second fiery setback for commercial space travel in less than a week.The crash area was about 120 miles (193 kilometers) north of downtown Los Angeles and 20 miles (30 kilometers) from the Mojave Air and Space Port, where the mid-morning flight originated.When Virgin Group licensed the technology from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who put $26 million into SpaceShipOne, Branson envisioned operating flights by 2007 .Friday's flight marked the 55th for SpaceShipTwo, which was intended to be the first of a fleet of craft.During other flights, the craft either was not released from its mothership or functioned as a glider after release.The first rocket-powered test flight peaked at about 10 miles (16 kilometers) above Earth.One difference on this flight was the type of fuel. Friday's accident was the second this week involving private space flight.Virgin Galactic plans to launch space tourism flights from the quarter-billion-dollar Spaceport America in southern New Mexico once it finished developing its rocket ship.
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