A 64-year-old man was killed Saturday while trying to launch himself 5,000 feet into the air on a steam-powered, homemade rocket in the California desert, near Barstow.
The rocket crash-landed into the ground. The parachute may have separated too early to bring the rocket back down. The well-known amateur rocket-maker Mike Hughes had been vowing since 2017 to ride his rocket into the air high enough, to where the Earth's atmosphere meets outer space, otherwise known as the Karman line , to confirm his belief that the earth is flat. The Science Channel was filming the launch for its new series Homemade Astronauts. In 2018, Hughes successfully launched himself about 1,875 feet into the sky above the Mojave desert via a garage-made rocket. In August 2019 he aborted a similar mission due to technical problems.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mike Hughes' family and friends during this difficult time. It was always his dream to do this launch, and Science Channel was there to chronicle his journey," the Science Channel said in a statement. Deputies responded to the fatal rocket crash off highway 247 in Barstow, California, on Saturday afternoon. Sheriff's aviation investigators were looking into the accident.