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The vehicle, he said, was dropped from its carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo, at an altitude of almost 50,000ft at 10:07:19 US Pacific time.
The ship's hybrid rocket motor was then ignited just a couple of seconds later, at 10:07:21.
Eight seconds after that (10:07:29), the vehicle was travelling just under the speed of sound (Mach 0.94). Two further seconds into the flight (10:07:31), it was travelling at Mach 1.02.
It is in that period between Mach 0.94 and Mach 1.02 that Michael Alsbury is seen on recovered cockpit video moving a lever to unlock the feathering system - an action that in the pilots' checklist was not called for until the vehicle had reached Mach 1.4.
Investigators have previously described how the feathering system then deployed, apparently "uncommanded" by the pilots. It is probable that aerodynamic forces deployed the mechanism, resulting in the break-up of the ship. This is timed at 10:07:34 - the moment video and telemetry was lost.
Now they'll most likely redesign it with something so that even if they unlock it, it can't physically move unless the other handle is pulled too.
originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: MarsIsRed
Yes and no. It was pilot error that they unlocked the feathers too soon, yes. BUT, the feathers shouldn't have moved uncommanded the way they did. So THAT part was mechanical in nature.