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Man Dies Trying To Prove The Earth Is Flat

American daredevil Michael 'Mad Mike' Hughes died after he crash-landed his rocket on his quest to prove the Earth is flat.

On Saturday, Hughes, 64, tested his steam-powered rocket in the California desert, intending to reach 5,000 feet  (1,524 metres).

But the test launch ended in tragedy when Hughes crashed-landed just seconds after being launched into the air.

Mike Hughes stands in front of his rocket at a previous launch. Image: AP

Freelance journalist Justin Chapman was covering the launch and posted a video to Twitter.

"Mad Mike Hughes just launched himself in a self-made steam-powered rocket and crash landed. Very likely did not survive," he said.

The 48-second video shows Hughes be launched from the back of a truck on the rocket but the parachute becomes unattached just seconds later.

Hughes continues his ascent for another 10 seconds with a trail of steam behind him before he starts to fall, eventually slamming into the ground.

The parachute appears to deploy too early and detaches from the rocket. Image: AP

The launch was intended as a step for Hughes and his research partner Waldo Stakes in their quest to reach the Karman Line -- the border between Earth's atmosphere and outer space about 100 kilometres above the ground.

Last March, Hughes launched himself nearly 600 metres high and successfully landed with a parachute.

“My story really is incredible,” Hughes said at the time.

“It’s got a bunch of storylines -- the garage-built thing. I’m an older guy. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, plus the flat Earth."

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The Science Channel was also at the launch to film Hughes for a new documentary about amateur rocket makers.

"As ground-breaking and awe-inspiring as this event will be, it is only the first step towards an even more ambitious goal in space exploration," the program said on its website.

The Science Channel confirmed Hughes' death in a statement late on Saturday.

"Michael 'Mad Mike' Hughes tragically passed away today during an attempt to launch his homemade rocket," it said.

"It was always his dream to do this launch & Science Channel was there to chronicle his journey."