By Mark Fairlie
Last Saturday, the internet famous inventor and flat-earther “Mad” Mike Hughes launched himself more than 1,875 feet in a homemade rocket to prove his theory that the earth is flat.
“Do I believe the Earth is shaped like a Frisbee? I believe it is,” he told the LA Times. “Do I know for sure? No. That’s why I want to go up in space.”
The flight comes four months after the original proposed launch date. Mr Hughes encountered issues with his launchpad and with planning permission, the combination of which caused him to postpone the event.
The 61-year-old limo driver said he was “tired of people saying I chickened out and didn’t build a rocket… I’m tired of that stuff; I manned up and did it.”
Mr Hughes’ story has been extremely popular in the press as he has attempted this journey many times over the past few years. He has even stated that he launched a rocket 1,374ft into the air in Arizona back in 2014, where he collapsed and took three days to recover.
Since then, there have been many attempted launches, many of which were cancelled due to problems with the weather and gaining permission from various authorities.
Retired NASA astronaut Jerry Linenger commented on the proposed launch, stating “I hope he doesn’t blow something up.” Mr Linenger is known for having orbited the globe more than 2,000 times in just four months back in 1997. “Rocketry,” he continued, “as our private space companies found out, isn’t as easy as it looks.”
Hughes has spent an approximate $20,000 – or £14,000 – on his rocket project in the last two years. When speaking of his inspiration to go ahead with the launch, Hughes told the media it was to find proof of the Flat-Earth theory. “It’ll shut the door on this ball earth,” he said in a fundraising interview with a flat-Earth group last year.
The self-taught rocket scientist shot above the Mojave Desert in a steam-powered contraption that he had built in his garage by himself. Hughes had also converted a mobile home into a ramp in preparation for the launch; modifying it to propel the rocket vertically to avoid landing on public ground.
On March 24th, 2018, sometime after 3 pm and without a countdown, Hughes’ rocket took off. According to the altimeter and speedometer placed in the cockpit, Hughes was travelling at around 350mph before his parachute was deployed – reaching as high as 571 meters when he began his descent.
At this point, however, it was noted that the rocket was dropping too fast. Hughes was forced to use the second parachute but still landed with a crash; breaking the rocket’s nose in two places as it was designed to do.
Despite the rough landing, Mr Hughes was found to be okay by paramedics upon returning to the ground. “Am I glad I did it? Yeah, I guess,” he told the Associated Press after the landing. “I’ll feel it in the morning. I won’t be able to get out of bed.”
“At least I can go home and have dinner and see my cats tonight,” he added.
Whilst Hughes did not get the photographic evidence he was hoping for to prove the theory that the earth is shaped like a disk, he still considers the mission a success.
Hughes is still eager to find proof that the earth is flat, and has since announced that he plans on building a ‘Rockoon’ in the future. This is where a gas-filled balloon is used to carry the rocket into the atmosphere before separating – taking him 68 miles above the Earth.
He also plans to run for governor of California at some point.