TEHACHAPI, Calif. (AP) — Michael Alsbury, who was killed in the test flight of Virgin Galactic’s
prototype space tourism rocket, was a respected test pilot and devoted husband and father of two young
children, his employer and neighbor said Saturday.
Scaled Composites, the company developing the spaceship for Virgin Galactic, issued a statement Saturday
calling Alsbury "a respected and devoted colleague."
Peter Siebold, who piloted SpaceShipTwo and survived, was described as alert and talking with his family
and doctors, the statement said.
Alsbury had at least 15 years of flight experience and logged more than 1,600 hours as a test pilot and
test engineer, according to a biography posted on the Society of Flight Test Engineers’ website. He was
listed on the website as an event speaker for the group last year.
At Scaled Composites, Alsbury participated in the flight testing of nine different manned aircraft and
co-piloted SpaceShipTwo when it broke the sound barrier during its first powered flight last year. He
was also sitting in the co-pilot’s seat when the craft first dropped in 2010 from its carrier aircraft
several miles above the Earth for an unpowered glide test.
Alsbury flew primarily as the craft’s co-pilot, logging at least seven trips from 2010 to early 2014,
according to test-flight logs.
Alsbury’s next-door neighbor in Tehachapi, California, Patricia Kinn, had known him for years and
described him as a devoted father of a young son and daughter. The last time she saw him he was playing
with the kids in his yard.
"He was a very down-to-earth family man," Kinn said. "He was very humble. He never
bragged, never boasted."
Kinn, who works in flight testing for another company, said the aerospace community is a close one
connected with businesses at the Mojave Air and Space Port and nearby Edwards Air Force Base.
"It was a horrible day yesterday for everyone," she said "What’s hard is the family is
suffering the loss of their dad. And they were very tight."
Alsbury earned a degree in aeronautical engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San
Luis Obispo. He was the recipient of Northrop Grumman’s President’s Award for
Innovation-for-Affordability Excellence this year.
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