Long range camera view of Spaceship Two with twin tail booms rotating up. Credit: SpaceflightNow.com/Clay Center Observatory/Virgin Galactic.
It's a fact: right after the motor ignited, SpaceShipTwo's twin-boom tails began rotating into the position used for descending into the atmosphere from space, causing the craft to become unstable and break apart. While the possibility exists that the cause was pilot error, the chief of the National Transportation Safety Board does not want anyone jumping to conclusions. The investigations will continue for some time, and engineers and scientists will be poring over the data from the flight recorders and cameras. However, this development helps move the concern away from the motor itself.
It seems that the lever used to release the booms was activated by the co-pilot, who died in last week's crash. The pilot was able to free himself as the craft came apart, and safely parachuted to the ground. He suffered injuries from the accident and is recovering in the hospital.