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

IndustriesAssociated Press

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.

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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.