Sceptic of world being round dies in California rocket crash

BARSTOW, CALIFORNIA (AP) — A California man who said he wanted to fly to the edge of outer space to see if the world is round has died after his home-built rocket blasted off into the desert sky and plunged back to earth.

“Mad” Mike Hughes was killed on Saturday afternoon after his rocket crashed on private property near Barstow, California.

Waldo Stakes, a colleague who was at the rocket launch, said Hughes, 64, was killed.

The Science Channel said on Twitter it had been chronicling Hughes’ journey and that “thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time. It was always his dream to do this launch,” the Twitter message said. Hughes also was a limousine driver, who held the Guinness world record for “longest limousine ramp jump”, for jumping 31 metres in a Lincoln Town Car stretch limousine, at a speedway in 2002.

A video on TMZ.com showed the rocket taking off, with what appears to be a parachute tearing off during the launch.

The steam-powered rocket streaks upward, then takes around 10 seconds to fall straight back to earth.

Shrieks can be heard as the rocket plows into the desert.

‘Mad’ Mike Hughes climbs onto his home-built rocket before its launch near Barstow, California. PHOTO: AP