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The BBC's Richard Wells
"It never left the launch pad"
 real 28k

Thursday, 15 July, 1999, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
Amateur rocket up in smoke
Map showing the competing rocket launches
A rocket built by a group of amateur space enthusiasts has disintegrated on its launch pad during an abortive take-off.

The White Rose blew up on the North York Moors.

Eyewitnesses at the launchpad at Westerdale Moor said it failed to get off the ground at all, with the top half shooting off and flames pouring out of the base.

Members of the White Rose Rocket Society had hoped their craft would reach a height of 6,000 metres (20,000ft).

The 2.7m (9-ft) rocket would have been powered by a unique fuel the pair had developed themselves.

The craft's creators, Alan Bullock and Jago Packer, spent months developing it but now their dreams have gone up in smoke.

Mr Packer said: "I am extremely upset. I don't know exactly what's gone wrong there."

Eyes on the prize

They are the latest people to attempt trials working towards capturing a $10m (6.4m) prize for the first private rocket to take people into space.

Another rocketeer Steve Bennett, from Manchester, last month unveiled a model of the ship he plans to pilot into space.

He has conducted slightly more successful experiments from moorland near Liverpool.

Mr Packer, a pharmaceutical representative from York and former pyrotechnics company boss, said: "There is also the kudos of being the first amateur group to build a rocket that gets into space.

"Our long term aim is to put a man up there. That's what we all want to attain."

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