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Mojave

U.S. Geological Survey

When the first big earthquake hit, a magnitude-6.4 on Thursday morning, Ridgecrest resident Heather Martin said so many of her belongings fell in front of her bedroom door that all she could do was crouch in a corner and wait for the shaking to stop.

When the magnitude-7.1 quake struck the next night, Martin knew she had to get out of her apartment. Each doorway was another hurdle to pass through. “My back slammed into the doorframe,” she says, as she passed the bathroom, “and I had such an adrenaline rush at that point that I didn’t even realize I had hurt my back.”

Virgin Galactic

When you think of Kern County’s economy, you probably think of two things – oil and ag. But there’s another big player in the county’s economy – aerospace. County economic development officials estimate that around 20,000 people are employed in the sector – and one of the fastest growing areas has been in the field of commercial spaceflight.

A key function called "feathering," which changes the aerodynamics of the Virgin Galactic spacecraft that crashed into the Mojave Desert last week, was engaged too early, investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board said on Monday.

The function is supposed to be deployed when SpaceShipTwo reached a speed of 1.4 times the speed of sound. Instead, it was deployed when the spacecraft reached Mach 1.

In what could be a major setback for commercial space tourism, a manned spaceship has crashed in California's Mojave Desert.

The Virgin Galactic Spaceship Two was on a test flight this morning, with two pilots aboard. Minutes after its rocket fired, the company announced on Twitter that spacecraft experienced an "anomaly."

Capt. Tom Ellison of Kern County Fire Department said that Spaceship Two had a malfunction shortly after it separated from White Knight Two, the rocket that gives Spaceship Two a lift up to 45,000 feet.