Virgin Galactic said its SpaceShipTwo rocket plane suffered a "serious anomaly" during a powered test flight on Friday that resulted in the loss of the aircraft.
The anomaly occurred after the plane was released from its WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane and fired up its rocket engine in flight for the first time in more than nine months. Sources said SpaceShipTwo exploded in midflight, and debris fell onto California's Mojave Desert.
"The WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft landed safely," Virgin Galactic said in a statement. "Our first concern is the status of the pilots, which is unknown at this time."
UPDATE: The California Highway Patrol is reporting one fatality.