Daredevil Mike Hughes, notorious for building and attempting to launch homemade rockets into space, died on Saturday during a launch attempt in the California desert, which was being filmed for the upcoming Science Channel series Homemade Astronauts.
Hughes and his partner, Waldo Stakes, were set to be one of three teams featured on the series, produced by World of Wonder Productions. Hughes and Stakes were designing a manned rocket-balloon hybrid – dubbed the “Rock-oon” – that they hoped would soar to the Karman line, the border between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space. The team was aiming to raise funds for this project by first launching Hughes to an altitude of 5,000 feet via a steam-powered rocket — a launch that was being documented for the upcoming series.
A statement from Discovery Inc.-owned Science Channel issued over the weekend read: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his 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.”
Aviation investigators in San Bernadino County are looking into the incident. While the sheriff’s office didn’t identify Hughes by name, the amateur rocket-builder’s publicist, Darren Shuster, confirmed his identity.
(Photo: Science Channel)