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Peter Siebold

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Peter Siebold
Born1971 (age 52–53)
Alma materCalifornia Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
OccupationTest Pilot
Space career
Virgin Galactic commercial astronaut (honorary)
SelectionSpaceShipOne 2003

Peter Siebold (born 1971) is a member of the Scaled Composites astronaut team.[1] He is their Director of Flight Operations,[2] and was one of the test pilots for SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo, the experimental spaceplanes developed by the company.[3] On April 8, 2004, Siebold piloted the second powered test flight of SpaceShipOne, flight 13P, which reached a top speed of Mach 1.6 and an altitude of 32.0 kilometres (105,000 ft). On October 31, 2014, Siebold and Michael Alsbury were piloting the SpaceShipTwo VSS Enterprise on flight PF04, when the craft came apart in mid-air and then crashed, killing Alsbury and injuring Siebold.


Peter Siebold, a 1990 graduate of Davis Senior High School in Davis, California,[4] obtained his pilot's license at age 16.[5] He has been a design engineer at Scaled Composites since 1996. Siebold holds a degree in aerospace engineering from California Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo, from 2001.[6]

Siebold was responsible for the simulator, navigation system, and ground control system for the SpaceShipOne project at Scaled. Although he was one of four qualified pilots for SpaceShipOne, Siebold did not pilot the craft during the flights later in 2004 to meet the requirements of the Ansari X Prize.[7] Although Siebold flew SpaceShipOne to an altitude of 32 kilometres (20 mi), he did not cross the 100 km Kármán line—the international standard for reaching space.

For his contribution to the SpaceShipOne project, Siebold, along with Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie, received the 2004 Iven C. Kincheloe Award presented by the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

Siebold became the Director of Flight Operations at Scaled.[2] He was the pilot who flew the White Knight Two on its maiden flight on December 21, 2008.[8] He won the Iven C. Kincheloe Award a second time in 2009, this time individually, for his work on the first WhiteKnightTwo, VMS Eve, as chief test pilot.[9]

SpaceShipTwo VSS Enterprise crash[edit]

VSS Enterprise the spacecraft involved in the accident, attached to its mothership, VMS Eve

On October 31, 2014, Siebold was one of the two pilots flying the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo, VSS Enterprise, along with Michael Alsbury, on a test flight, which suffered an anomaly, resulting in the death of Alsbury and loss of Enterprise. VSS Enterprise crashed in the California Mojave Desert. Thrown clear of the Enterprise when it broke up in mid-air, Siebold survived a descent from about 50,000 feet (15,000 m) at Mach 1 speed with just a flightsuit.[10] His parachute deployed automatically at about 20,000 feet (6,100 m), and, after landing, he was taken to the hospital for treatment.[11] He suffered from eyesight degradation and eye pains. He was unable to keep his eyes open and he did not open his right eye until emergency personnel arrived.

Siebold's flight suit was saturated with blood from bleeding in his right arm. He did not feel any lower body injuries. As Siebold removed his parachute harness a "clunking noise" was felt in his chest and Siebold became concerned about a potential spinal fracture. Upon arrival at the ER his flight suit was cut away.

Siebold experienced a non-compound four-part fracture of his right humerus. The ball of his ankle was also dislocated and fractured. He had a non-displaced fracture of his right clavicle, a small gash in his right elbow (source of the blood on his flight suit), a deep scrape on his right wrist, and multiple scrapes on the back of his right shoulder. There was considerable bruising on his right chest but he did not know how it occurred. He did not recall any bruising on his left side. He had an abrasion under his chin which he felt was consistent with the location of his chin strap, and had multiple contusions and scrapes on his face. He was diagnosed with corneal scratches and doctors removed a piece of fiberglass from his left eye during a hospital stay. The eyes did not improve so he saw an ophthalmologist after being discharged. The ophthalmologist removed some foreign matter from his left eyelid and a "silver sliver" from his right cornea. His eyes improved immediately post procedure.[12]


  1. ^ "X PRIZE: The Competition is Heating Up". Space.com. Archived from the original on May 24, 2009. Retrieved March 6, 2007.
  2. ^ a b "Press Release – 3:00pm, November 1, 2014" (PDF). Scaled Composites. November 1, 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 2, 2014. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  3. ^ "Big Secret: Who Will Fly SpaceShipOne?". Space.com. Archived from the original on November 15, 2006. Retrieved March 6, 2007.
  4. ^ "Surviving Pilot In SpaceShipTwo Crash Said To Be 'Alert And Talking'". Sacramento CBS Local. November 1, 2014. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  5. ^ "Virgin Galactic crash: Descent system 'deployed early'". BBC News. November 3, 2014. Retrieved November 15, 2020.
  6. ^ Leslie, Kaytlyn (November 4, 2014) [November 1, 2014]. "Both test pilots in Virgin Galactic crash graduated from Cal Poly". The Tribune. Archived from the original on April 18, 2022. Retrieved April 18, 2022.
  7. ^ "ANSARI X PRIZE Team Summary Sheet - American Scaled Composites Team" (PDF). January 9, 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 9, 2006.
  8. ^ "Scaled Composites: News – Mike Alsbury Memorial Fund" (PDF). Scaled Composites. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 13, 2011. Retrieved December 10, 2010.
  9. ^ "Kincheloe Award Recipients". Lancaster, California: Society of Experimental Test Pilots. Retrieved October 10, 2015.
  10. ^ Vartebedian, Ralph; Petersen, Melody (November 5, 2014). "Virgin Galactic pilot defied the odds to survive crash". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  11. ^ Rhian, Jason. "IMAGE: SPACESHIPONE, GOVERNMENT ZERO". Space Flight Insider.
  12. ^ Messier, Doug (July 29, 2015). "A Detailed Account of Pete Siebold's Survival in the SpaceShipTwo Crash". Parabolic Arc. Retrieved July 20, 2021.

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