Sir Richard Branson, the British billionaire founder of Virgin Galactic, has hit out against "self-proclaimed experts" asserting an explosion was behind the crash of the company's spacecraft last week.
Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo crashed in the Mojave Desert in California, killing 39-year-old pilot Michael Alsbury and injuring 43-year-old Peter Siebold.
Sir Richard said evidence showed there was "no explosion" behind the deadly crash.
"The fuel tanks and the engine were intact, showing there was no explosion, despite a lot of self-proclaimed experts saying that was the cause," he said.
"I've never seen such irresponsible innuendo and damaging innuendo."
He said sensationalist press reports about the crash had been "incredibly hurtful", adding that some of the journalists "should hang their heads in shame".
Sir Richard also vowed to "push on" with Virgin's passenger travel space programme once the reasons behind the accident had been worked out and corrected.
"We will not fly members of the public unless we can fly myself and family members," he said.
"I'm absolutely convinced that Virgin Galactic has a great future once the NTSB has made clear exactly what happened."
The investigation into the crash is ongoing and is not expected to conclude for another year.
A space safety expert said Virgin Galactic had ignored multiple warnings about the spacecraft's motor and the fuel used, since a 2007 incident in which three engineers were killed testing a rocket on the ground.
Feathering function deployed early: NTSB
The National Transport Safety Board said it found that the "feathering" function, to help SpaceShipTwo descend into the atmosphere from space, was deployed early.
Christopher Hart, the acting chairman of the NTSB, said SpaceShipTwo's rotating tail boom, a key safety feature for re-entering the atmosphere, inadvertently rotated early.
Mr Hart said investigators had determined the "feathering" system should have been deployed when the vehicle was traveling about 1.4 times the speed of sound.
Instead, the feather began rotating when the vehicle was traveling at Mach 1.
The system, which folds the vehicle in half to create more atmospheric drag, was unlocked early by the co-pilot, but a second command to move the feather handle into position was not sent, he said.
"The engine burn was normal up until the extension of the feathers," Mr Hart said.
He emphasized that the NTSB was not saying the early deployment of the ship's feather was the cause of the accident and stressed that the investigation was in its earliest stages.
"We have months and months of investigation," he said.
SpaceShipTwo was conducting test flights and was not yet certified for commercial operations when the crash occurred, indefinitely delaying the start of passenger service.
Sir Richard and his son plan to fly on the first commercial flight. About 800 people have paid or put down deposits for the ride, which costs $250,000.