Commercial space travel has up and down past

Posted at 6:35 PM, Feb 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-19 21:35:16-05

Friday's unveiling of the new SpaceShipTwo in Mojave brings renewed optimism that commercial space travel is on the horizon.

But commercial space travel has arguably had a dark past.

In 2014, the original SpaceShipTwo crashed in Mojave, killing one pilot and severely injuring the other. The death devastated Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson to the point that he began to question continuing the space travel journey.

"As I traveled back home from that tumultuous event, with an aching heart and a mind filled with what the future may hold for us, I started to read some of the hundreds of messages that had been flooding in from around the world," Branson said.

"I stepped off the plane with the knowledge that the world judged our purpose to be important."

Another incident in 2003, a hard landing of SpaceShipOne, also served as a setback for commercial space travel. But according to former 23ABC reporter Heidi Carter-Escudero, who covered the hard landing, SpaceShipOne designer Burt Rutan was hopeful.

"Just the way that he said it, 'History was made in Mojave today'. That was the first step towards that future of space flight," Carter-Escudero said.