Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of Virgin Galactic, sent out a message on Twitter on Friday after his company's SpaceShipTwo rocket exploded over Mojave, California. Authorities said one person was killed and another seriously injured in the incident.
Branson added in a statement Friday evening that Mojave was "also where I want to be - with the dedicated and hard-working people who are now in shock at this devastating loss."
"I am writing this as we refuel on one of the most difficult trips I have ever had to make," he said in the statement.
"Space flight is incredibly difficult, and we commend the passion of all in the space community who take on risk to push the boundaries of human achievement," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in a statement. "While not a NASA mission, the pain of this tragedy will be felt by all the men and women who have devoted their lives to exploration."
Sen. Bill Nelson, who helms the Science and Space Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Space and Transportation Committee, said in a statement that this "has been a tragic week for our commercial space sector" but that he was "confident that we will learn from the investigations of these two accidents and take steps to prevent them from happening again."
"My heart and prayers go out to the pilots of SpaceShipTwo and their families," Kevin McCarthy, who represents the Congressional district where SpaceShipTwo crashed, said in a statement. "Their courage and bravery to embark on missions that will lead towards expanding man's reach into space exemplify the ingenuity and imagination of America."
Bill Nye, television host and president of the Planetary Society, also released a statement.
"Space is hard, as evidenced by the catastrophic launch earlier this week," he said. "Because of the promise of discovery, we can be certain that others will step in to honor the fallen and then carry on to make space more accessible for the benefit of humankind."
Many other members of the science and spacefaring community tweeted out messages of support for Virgin Galactic and the pilots that were on board SpaceShipTwo.
"I want to reiterate our thanks to everyone from within the space community and beyond who has sent their overwhelming messages of love and support," Branson said in the statement released Friday.
— Keith Wagstaff and Daniella Silva