A rocket launch gone awry on Saturday took the life of daredevil “Mad” Mike Hughes in Barstow, California.
The 64-year-old stunt man turned rocket enthusiast was attempting a 5,000-foot ascent on Saturday afternoon when the launch immediately went wrong. As the rocket fired off, it hit the ladder used for climbing up to the rocket’s cockpit. The ladder tore off the parachute cannister deploying the parachute. The chute pulled the rocket off course but the rocket continued to ascend to an undetermined height before nosing down and plummeting nose-first into the desert about a half-mile from the launch pad.
The amateur rocket enthusiast had been building steam-powered rockets in part in an attempt to go high enough to prove for himself that the earth was flat.
The disaster was witnessed by approximately 60 people in attendance, including staff from the Science Channel, who were on hand for the launch for their series on amateur home-made astronauts.
Hughes had made two previous launches with his home-built rockets and ascended to 1,875 feet over the Mohave Desert in 2018, and 1,374 feet over Winkelman, Arizona in 2014. Those launches went as planned and he landed without injuries.