Pieces of the Virgin Galactic experimental spaceship that broke up in flight have been found 35 miles from the main wreckage area, federal accident investigators said.
The parts recovered were small enough to have been blown that far by the wind, acting National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Christopher Hart, speaking at a news conference Monday night, said. The largest piece found so far is a section of a wing.
The 60-foot spacecraft broke up Friday over California’s Mojave Desert. While initial results show that a system to slow the space plane’s descent deployed too soon, the NTSB has not concluded what shattered the craft.
One pilot, Michael Tyner Alsbury, 39, died and another, Peter Siebold, was injured in the incident.
Investigators aren’t sure which of the pilots unlocked the craft’s feathering system, Hart said. The surviving pilot has not been interviewed yet.
Investigators believe once the feathers were unlocked, "aerodynamic forces" buffeting the spacecraft at the speed of sound caused the feathers to start rotating.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.