Rocket man set for lift-off

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A British rocket enthusiast is aiming to become the first amateur in Europe to break the sound barrier when his home-made unmanned rocket is test launched today from an Army range at Otterburn, Northumberland.

The rocket - built by Steve Bennett, 32, of Dukinfield, Greater Manchester - is being put through its paces to test its engine power, computer configuration and parachute mechanism, before a full-scale flight in April, when Mr Bennett hopes to set a new world record for altitude reached by an amateur's rocket - 15 miles high. He said he hopes to launch a satellite into orbit by 2001.