The famed DIY rocketeer “Mad” Mike Hughes, who in 2018 successfully launched himself more than 1,800 feet into the sky in a homemade rocket, died on Saturday in a tragic accident. To the end though, it can be said that he passed doing what he loved to do: launching rockets.
According to CNN, the 64-year-old died during an attempt to launch another homemade rocket on Saturday. The launch was being documented by a new Science Channel show, part of Discovery, called Homemade Astronauts, which aimed to chronicle “a group of colourful DIY rocketeers taking their own path to space.”
Hughes and his partner, Waldo Stakes, were planning on launching Hughes 5,000 feet high in a steam-powered rocket to raise money and awareness for another project called “Rock-oon,” Discovery said on its website. Rock-oon is a part rocket, part balloon vessel that both men hoped would take Hughes to the Karman line, which at 62 miles high. Many organisations consider the Karman line to be the border between Earth’s atmosphere and space.
The Science Channel confirmed Hughes’ death.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this difficult time,” Science Channel said in a statement. “It was always his dream to do this launch, and Science was there to chronicle his journey.”
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office responded to an incident involving a fatal rocket crash on Saturday afternoon, per CNN. The authorities did not identify Hughes. Sheriff aviation investigators are looking into the incident.
“A man was pronounced deceased after the rocket crashed in the open desert during a rocket launch event,” a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman said.
Hughes was known as a self-declared Flat Earth researcher and a rocket enthusiast. Before his successful launch in 2018, he had failed to blast himself into the sky twice. He blamed his first failure on the U.S. federal government, which told him that it had not given him permission to launch himself in a homemade rocket on public lands. Bad luck struck the second time around as well, when Hughes encountered technical problems with the rocket.
Nonetheless, in the end he did manage to see the skies in his rocket. Although he had an aching back when he finished the launch, Hughes said he was glad he did it.
“I’m tired of people saying I chickened out and didn’t build a rocket,” Hughes said. “I’m tired of that stuff. I manned up and did it.”
He sure did. May you rest in peace, Mad Mike.