FAA on Mojave accident
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) office in charge of licensing private space flight operators, including New Mexico-based Virgin Galactic, is treating the test stand mishap as an industrial accident, leaving the ongoing investigation to Scaled Composites and California's workplace safety authorities. Patricia Grace Smith, the FAA's associate administrator for commercial space transportation told Space News July 31 in a statement that the director of the Mojave Air and Spaceport where the incident occurred and the California [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] officials called in to investigate "indicate this was an industrial accident, a fuel-flow test gone terribly wrong." The incident did not involve any activities regulated by the FAA, according to Smith.Of course as SpaceShipTwo development goes forward FAA/AST not California safety regulators will determine any extent to which investigation findings may factor into launch licensing for Scaled Composites.
"It was not a launch accident. It was not a flight accident. It was not directly related to vehicle performance or passenger involvement," she said. (Brian Berger, Space News)
No surprise here either: Space News also reported Smith attended a meeting requested by staff of chairman James L. Oberstar's House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee "to discuss the accident." Her office "would not comment on the meeting."