A daredevil inventor known as “Mad” Mike Hughes has died after launching himself in a homemade rocket which crashed in the California desert.
The 64-year-old was attempting to fly 5,000ft (1,524m) into the air in a steam-powered rocket when it crash-landed shortly after take-off near Barstow on Saturday.
The Science Channel, which was filming the launch attempt as part of a documentary series called Homemade Astronauts, confirmed Mr Hughes had died in the crash.
Michael ‘Mad Mike’ Hughes tragically passed away today during an attempt to launch his homemade rocket. Our thoughts & prayers go out to his family & friends during this difficult time. It was always his dream to do this launch & Science Channel was there to chronicle his journey pic.twitter.com/GxwjpVf2md
— Science Channel (@ScienceChannel) February 23, 2020
“Our thoughts & prayers go out to his family & friends during this difficult time,” it said.
“It was always his dream to do this launch & Science Channel was there to chronicle his journey.”
Footage of the launch was posted on Twitter and showed the rocket flying into the air before plummeting to the ground seconds later.
San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office confirmed it was investigating after officers responded to a fatal rocket crash off highway 247 in Barstow on Saturday afternoon, CNN reported.
The sheriff’s office – which did not formally identify Hughes – said a man was pronounced dead when a rocket crashed in the open desert during a launch event.
No other injuries were reported.
Mr Hughes – who worked as a limo driver and believed the Earth was flat – eventually hoped to develop a rocket that would launch him 62 miles in the air to where the Earth’s atmosphere meets outer space, according to US reports.
He made international headlines in 2018 after blasting himself around 1,875ft (570m) into the air in a rocket before landing with a bump.
The daredevil reached an estimated speed of 350mph before activating his parachute during the stunt.
“This thing wants to kill you 10 different ways,” Mr Hughes said at the time.
Mr Hughes also set a Guinness World Record in 2002 for the longest limousine ramp jump after he jumped 31.39m (103ft) in a stretched limousine at Perris Auto Speedway in California.