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Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 15:25 GMT
Rocketeer launches from Morecambe
Steve Bennett saw his 11-metre-long (37 feet) Nova vehicle shoot up into the sky and reach about 1,525 m (5,000 ft). The rocketeer said the launch was 85% successful.
He had said before the launch that he expected Nova to get to 1,800 metres (6,000 ft). Two of the three parachutes bringing vehicle components back to Earth also became entangled.
The blast-off in Cumbria came as news was released of another launch at the weekend using the most powerful, privately built rocket motor ever to fly over the UK.
The motor lifted the Deimos-2 vehicle, constructed by the Mars rocketry society, to an altitude of 2,134 metres (7,000 feet). Mars has its sights set on launching scientific and educational payloads.
X-Prize entrants must also demonstrate the reusability of their spacecraft by flying twice within a two-week period.
At the moment 17 teams, including ex-Nasa employees and astronauts, are in the running for the prize.
Thursday's blast-off at Morecambe Bay would pave the way for a manned launch next year, Mr Bennett said. Mr Bennett said two anonymous middle-aged Britons had already paid out £250,000 for a seat on one of his rockets.
'Walking the walk'
The Cumbrian event was designed to test aerodynamics, launch and recovery systems on the current generation vehicle.
"I have always dreamed of going up in a rocket. Now I've got one and we have proved it works," said the Salford University lecturer.
"We have just proved the doubters wrong. We have physically demonstrated in the best way imaginable that we have what it takes to deliver.
And he added: "There are a lot of people promising and talking the talk, but we are out there walking the walk."
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