“Mad” Mike Hughes was killed Saturday (February 22) when the homemade rocket he was riding in crashed to the ground following a launch gone wrong. He was 64.
The crash occurred when the ladder Hughes used to enter the cockpit struck the rocket upon launch.
“It ripped off a parachute can, which deployed the parachute, which got caught in the thrust of the rocket and kind of took the rocket off course a little bit,” said Justin Chapman, a freelance journalist who witnessed the launch and eventual crash.
The launch was captured on video and shows the parachute falling to the ground almost immediately after the steam-powered rocket took off. The rocket begins to wobble, did a huge arc, then crashed to the ground about a half mile away from the launch pad.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said deputies were called to a private property near Barstow, California, at 1:52 p.m. Saturday and pronounced a man deceased “after the rocket crashed in the open desert during a rocket launch event.”
Roughly 60 people were on hand to witness Hughes’ flight, including a camera crew from the Science Channel who were filming the event for a television show.
Michael 'Mad Mike' Hughes tragically passed away today during an attempt to launch his homemade rocket. Our thoughts & prayers go out to his family & friends during this difficult time. It was always his dream to do this launch & Science Channel was there to chronicle his journey pic.twitter.com/GxwjpVf2md
— Science Channel (@ScienceChannel) February 23, 2020