— Justin Chapman (@justindchapman) February 22, 2020
Daredevil "Mad" Mike Hughes, 64, died Saturday when his steam-powered rocket crashed after a short flight over the Californian desert. Footage of the self-made craft shows its parachute deploying immediately after lift-off and being destroyed by its wake, leaving it with nothing to slow its descent.
A flat-earther, Hughes planned to go high enough to see the curvature of the earth with his own eyes. The launch was being filmed for the so-called "Science Channel", which has come in for heavy criticism for encouraging Hughes' risky stunts.
With the help of his partner Waldo Stakes, Hughes was trying to reach an altitude of 5,000ft (1,525m) while riding his steam-powered rocket, according to Space.com. In the video of the launch, a parachute can be seen trailing behind the rocket, apparently deployed too early, seconds after take-off. In a tweet, the Science Channel said Hughes had died pursuing his dream.