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Flat-Earther 'Mad' Mike Hughes Dies in Rocket Ride Above California Desert

BARSTOW (CBS/AP) -- Daredevil "Mad" Mike Hughes died when his homemade rocket crashed shortly after takeoff near Barstow, California.

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

Sources say the 64-year-old was using the rocket to try to get as close to space as possible. His empty parachute was captured on video falling back to earth.

Hughes was ejected from the rocket and fell to his death.

A video showed the rocket taking off with what appears to be a parachute tearing away 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.

Freelance journalist Justin Chapman, who was at the scene, said the rocket appeared to rub against the launch apparatus, which might have caused the mishap with the parachute.

In March 2018, Hughes propelled himself about 1,875 feet into the air. He deployed one parachute and then a second one but still had a hard landing in the Mojave Desert in California, and injured his back.

"This thing wants to kill you 10 different ways," Hughes said after that launch. "This thing will kill you in a heartbeat."

He said in a video that his goal was to eventually fly to the edge of outer space to determine for himself whether the world is round.

"I don't want to take anyone else's word for it," he said in the video, posted on the BBC News website. "I don't know if the world is flat or round."

In another video, Hughes said he also wanted "to convince people they can do things that are extraordinary with their lives."

Hughes was a limousine driver who held the Guinness world record for "longest limousine ramp jump," for jumping 103 feet in a Lincoln Town Car stretch limousine, at a speedway in 2002.

© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report

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