TECH

How Did That Virgin Galactic Test Pilot Peter Siebold Survive? Investigators Still Don't Know

06/11/2014 11:14 GMT | Updated 06/11/2014 11:59 GMT

How did the co-pilot survive?

That's the question that investigators scouring the wreckage of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShotTwo are now starting to ask, almost a week after the craft came crashing down into the Mojave Desert.

Investigators have not ruled out the possibility of pilot error in the crash which killed co-pilot Michael Alsbury, but from which pilot Peter Siebold was able to escape with a broken shoulder.

In fact, they're still not able to answer how he escaped at all.

READ MORE: Injured Virgin Galactic Pilot Peter Siebold 'Alert And Talking' After Fatal Crash

What we know so far is that at around 40,000 feet up and moving at Mach 1, SpaceShipTwo deployed its feathering braking system.

virgin galactic crash

The next piece of information we have is from the Washington Post which cites sources claiming that, 'Siebold found himself flying through the air while still attached to his ejection seat. When he spotted the chase plane, he managed to give the pilot inside a thumb’s up, and then unbuckled himself at about 17,000 feet, deploying his parachute.'

This raises a number of questions: how does someone survive an ejection at 40,000 feet, stay alive (considering the lack of oxygen) and then still be conscious enough to pull their parachute at the right altitude?

virgin galactic crash

After opening his chute, Siebold then reportedly fell to the ground using the parachute and then sustained a major shoulder injury on impact.

It's no surprise that sources from SpaceShipTwo's construction company Scaled Composites are calling his survival 'miraculous'.

The NTSB is investigating the crash and as yet they still don't know how he survived however they have confirmed that they'll be organising an interview with him the moment his medical team give him the all clear.