Pilot who parachuted from breakup of SpaceShipTwo is in small group of flyers lucky to survive

The survival of a test pilot who safely parachuted from a spacecraft that disintegrated over the Mojave Desert is being hailed as a miracle.

Virgin Galactic chief executive George Whitesides said this week that it was amazing Peter Siebold was in relatively good shape after last week's disaster.

Siebold was piloting SpaceShipTwo last Friday. Co-pilot Michael Alsbury, 39, was killed.

Siebold is flight operations director at Scaled Composites, which built the aircraft.

The crash was a setback for Virgin's quest to fly space tourists to altitudes more than 62 miles above Earth for a few moments of weightlessness at a price of $250,000 each.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash. Preliminary results show a system to slow the space plane's descent deployed too soon.