Discovery+ is shedding a light on amateur astronauts who have big dreams of private space travel. PopCulture.com can exclusively announce that Homemade Astronauts, an all-new series premiering on the streaming platform on Thursday, May 13, will document three self-financed teams who dream of becoming some of the first private citizens to launch themselves into space.
The four-episode series, filmed over the course of two-and-a-half years, documents the rarely seen world of homemade space travelers and the extreme lengths these teams take to reach their goals. Every year, private civilians set out on their own backyard space race to create their home-built rockets and spacesuits. Homemade Astronauts follows three of those dreamers in particular who pave their own paths, including Mike "Mad Mike' Hughes, who paid the ultimate price in pursuit.
Hughes and his build partner Waldo Stakes had the goal of propelling Hughes 62 miles above the earth, all the way to the Karman line — the border between Earth's atmosphere and outer space. Their vessel of choice — should they raise enough money — was a "Rockoon" (part rocket, part balloon) as a cost-effective way to make the journey. Homemade Astronauts documents as Hughes makes three bold attempts to reach up to one mile above the earth in a steam-powered rocket in a fundraising attempt for his rockoon. In March 2018, he successfully launched himself nearly 1,875 feet in the air in the Mojave Desert. In his next launch, he tweaked the design and aimed for a full mile above the ground in February 2020.
However, Hughes met a tragic end when his launch did not go as planned. The rocket-building community, as well as Hughes' loved ones, were shocked and devastated when the mission took a tragic turn. His friends and supporters gathered in July 2020 in tribute of the man who pursued his dream and paid the ultimate price.
Homemade Astronauts also focuses on real-life Minnesota "Rocketman" Ky Michaelson, the first civilian to build and launch an unmanned rocket into space. Working with his son, Buddy, and entrepreneur Kurt Anderson, "The Rocketboys" hope to become the first amateurs to build and launch a fuel-powered, manned space rocket. But first, they chase the land/ice speed world record with a homemade rocket sled.
In Oregon, Homemade Astronauts follows anthropology professor Cameron Smith, who found out years ago that his vision did not meet NASA standards but still never gave up on his dream of space flight. Now, he's 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. Taking the word "homemade" to the extreme literal level, Smith uses unexpected supplies like a Crockpot to craft his space-worthy suit. His next dream? Design a specialized hot air balloon, which viewers will see him do via an ingenious plan.
Homemade Astronauts premieres on discovery+ on Thursday, May 13. It 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.