MOBILE, Ala. (AP) _ A group of Alabama space enthusiasts failed Saturday to become the first amateurs to launch a rocket into space.

The Huntsville Alabama L5 Society, a chapter of the National Space Society, failed in its second attempt at a hot-air balloon launch from a NASA barge in the Gulf of Mexico, about 60 miles southeast of New Orleans.

The rocket fell from the balloon as it was about six feet in the air, hit the barge deck and broke, society spokesman Ron Lajoie told WPMI-TV in Mobile.

The members will take the rocket and other materials back to Huntsville for tests to determine what went wrong, Lajoie said. No date has been set for a relaunch.

The L5 Society tried a similar launch last spring, but the rocket misfired before the balloon could lift off from the launch site.

The National Space Society promotes exploration and eventual human colonization of space.