Virgin Galactic Crash: Richard Branson Criticizes U.K. Newspaper Coverage

Richard Branson Virgin Galactic - H 2014

U.S. investigators say a slowing device "deployed early" on SpaceShipTwo

Virgin boss Richard Branson has criticized U.K. newspapers for their coverage of the Friday crash of Virgin Galactic space tourism rocket SpaceShipTwo.

Branson charged a "handful of British newspapers" of publishing "wild accusations," including reports of problems with the fuel or engine, which have turned out to be "garbage," he told the BBC without naming specific papers. 

"Rumors and innuendo from self-proclaimed experts can be put back in their box," the U.K. public broadcaster quoted Branson as saying.

Read more Richard Branson on Virgin Galactic Crash: We Are "In Shock," Will Continue Space Project

Late Sunday, U.S. investigators said that a safety device on the spacecraft that was designed to slow it down during its descent deployed early during the test flight, according to the BBC. National Transportation Safety Board head Christopher Hart said the so-called feathering device activated without a command from the pilots.

But during a late Sunday press conference at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, he also emphasized that it was too early to give a likely cause of the crash, the BBC reported. Some U.K. media reports had initially focused on the fuel tanks and engine, which Hart said were found intact.

The accident killed the co-pilot, while the pilot managed to parachute out of SpaceShipTwo.

Twitter: @georgszalai