Aerospace & Defense

Private space travel moves forward after Galactic crash

They call them test flights for a reason: Former astronaut

"This is not the end of private space flight or commercial space flight." So said former astronaut Tom Henricks on "Closing Bell" when asked if he thought the industry was irreparably damaged by the recent crash of a Virgin Galactic passenger spaceship

On Monday, Virgin CEO echoed those same sentiments as he vowed to determine the cause of the crash and correct the problem. "We need to know exactly what happened to make absolutely certain it will never happen again,'' he said, suggesting he would not be deterred by the recent tragedy.

Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson speaks at a press conference at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California on November 1, 2014.
Josh Edelson | AFP | Getty Images

Henricks went on to say that although the tragedy was heartbreaking, he felt certain that, because of these events, "space vehicles will be that much more reliable when they take passengers up."

He also said many other companies also intend to embark on private space travel, too, in addition to Virgin.

"A company called Golden Spike plans to take people to the moon, privately," Henricks added. "There's also Sierra Nevada, Blue Origin, and Bigelow Aerospace. Again, this is not the end."

Turning attention to the Virgin Galactic crash, investigators are still fact finding in Mojave, California, the site of the tragedy which claimed the life of one pilot and serious injured another.

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According to the latest information, the aircraft's rotating tail, designed to ease reentry into the atmosphere, was activated prematurely. However, the National Transportation Safety Board also said it was too soon to know whether that mechanism caused Friday's accident.

The spacecraft was designed to carry wealthy passengers on short rides into space, with Virgin Galactic planning to begin offering its first flights to paying customers next spring.

In the wake of the crash, Virgin Galactic said about 3 percent of customers are asking for refunds.

Reuters contributed to this report