Manchester's space effort is launched

A FORMER toothpaste technician said he believed his team was on course to blast a human being into space after the launch of a 14ft rocket called The Tempest.

Steve Bennett was speaking yesterday after the successful lift-off near the coast of Merseyside of his latest craft. Blustery winds threatened to disrupt take-off at the Altcar Military Range, north of Liverpool,but at 10.17am the 50lb rocket roared into the skies.

It took about 18 seconds to reach an altitude of 3,000ft before landing safely by parachute 12 seconds later on the beach by the side of the River Mersey. After the successful launch Mr Bennett, 34 year old Salford University lecturer from Dukinfield, Greater Manchester, said: "I'm on top of the world. My space dream is no longer pie-in-the-sky.

"I have dreamt about moments like this for all my life and this is what keeps me going through all the difficult times."

His wife, Adrienne, said the team now had its sights on the $10m (pounds 6.25m) prize on offer from the X Prize Foundation in St Louis, Missouri. She believes Mr Bennett's team could be the first non-governmental body to launch a person 60 miles into space and said she was sure her husband would want to be in the driving seat.

"He's not the nutter people make him out to be," said Mrs Bennett. "The team is looking at the year 2003. We will have to see who goes up but I suppose it is his ultimate dream."

The success of The Tempest was a far cry from the team's escapades less than 12 months ago when their Starchaser 3 rocket crashed and exploded in a mass of flames on a Dartmoor military range.

Lessons were learnt from last year's disaster with qualified first aiders and firefighters on stand-by.

Although a replacement for his doomed creation is almost ready to fly, Mr Bennett's aim was to find a suitable launch site and landing area for high-altitude research rockets.

The craft, made of advanced composite materials and filled with three computers and two parachutes, accelerated to 700mph in five seconds.

The assault on the skies cost the team pounds 4,600 with an insurance premium of pounds 600 producing cover of up to pounds 1m.

Mr Bennett is looking for suitable sites for the launch of Starchaser 3a, which he hopes to launch later this year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most