— 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.
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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.