Discovery+ Documents Backyard Engineers Pursuing Their Dreams of Space Flight in All-New Limited Series Homemade Astronauts
‘Homemade Astronauts’ to Stream Thursday, May 13, on discovery+
(LOS ANGELES) – Although we’ve been living in the space age for over half a century, very few people have experienced space for themselves. For some, space travel is the ultimate mission – exploring our universe beyond the Earth’s atmosphere to discover the unknown. HOMEMADE ASTRONAUTS streaming Thursday, May 13, on discovery+, will document three self-financed teams who dream of becoming some of the first private citizens to launch themselves into space.
Each year, civilians from across the country and around the world set out on their own backyard space race – using nothing but grit, determination and self-taught skills to create their own home-built rockets and spacesuits. HOMEMADE ASTRONAUTS follows the journey of three groups of dreamers who pave their own paths, each with a different approach to space travel.
The four-episode series, filmed over the course of two and a half years, documents the rarely seen world of home-made space travelers and the extreme lengths these teams take to reach their goals.
These pursuits of big dreams come with big risks. And no one took bigger risks or had bigger dreams than lifelong daredevil Mike “Mad Mike” Hughes. He and his build partner Waldo Stakes set out with the ultimate goal of propelling Mike 62 miles above the earth, all the way to the Karman line, the border between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space. Their plan is to raise enough money to build a “Rockoon” – part rocket, part balloon – as a cost-effective way to make the journey.
Cameras document their progress as Mike first makes three bold attempts to reach up to one mile above the earth in a steam-powered rocket. His goal: to garner publicity and fundraising for his rockoon. In March 2018, Mike launched himself nearly 1,875 feet into the air in the Mojave Desert. On the heels of this successful launch and landing, Mike tweaked his design and aimed for a full mile above ground in February of 2020.
In taking this big step towards his ultimate dream of reaching 62 miles above the earth, Mike met a tragic end when his launch did not go as planned. Sending shockwaves throughout the rocket-building community and all who knew and loved him, Mike’s friends and supporters gathered in July of 2020 in tribute to the man who pursued his dream, and paid the ultimate price.
Separately, in Minnesota, the real-life “Rocketman,” Ky Michaelson, is the first civilian to build and launch an unmanned rocket into space. He’s working together with his son, Buddy, and entrepreneur Kurt Anderson – “The Rocketboys” – to take his skills to new heights. Ky hopes to become the first amateur to build and launch a fuel-powered, manned space rocket. Along the way, Ky and the Rocketboys build a rocket sled, in which Kurt attempts to break the land/ice speed world record.
Finally, in Oregon, anthropology professor Cameron Smith takes matters into his own hands to pursue his dream of space flight, after finding out years ago that his vision did not meet NASA standards. Now, he is creating a spacesuit that can withstand all the elements of space travel, with the ultimate goal of taking himself to the Armstrong line, 60,000 feet above ground. Using supplies as unexpected as a crockpot, he crafts a space-worthy suit that he tests on himself for safety on an airplane flight. With that success, Cameron designs a specialized hot air balloon, and comes up with an ingenious plan to float himself to the highest height.
In addition to streaming HOMEMADE ASTRONAUTS on discovery+, viewers can join the conversation on social media by using #HomemadeAstronauts and following @Discovery on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tiktok and @discoveryplus on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more updates.
HOMEMADE ASTRONAUTS is produced by World of Wonder. Executive Producers for World of Wonder are Jeremy Simmons, Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato and Tom Campbell. Executive Producer for Science Channel is Caroline Perez. Lindsey Foster Blumberg is Supervising Producer for Science.
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Phil Zimmerman, 310-890-7651, Phil_Zimmerman@discovery.com
Natalie Munio, (917) 859-5278, Natalie_Munio@discovery.com