Update: Due to an apparent technical glitch, the February 3 launch attempt was scrubbed.
After being caught in a paperwork snag with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), “Mad” Mike Hughes, a limo driver and self-proclaimed dare-devil, plans to launch himself in a new rocket today as part of his quest to help prove that the Earth is flat.
He was originally set to launch last year but the BLM objected, requiring Hughes to complete permitting paperwork.
Hughes originally hand made a rocket he was expecting to jump across land with. Now, he’s planning to launch himself straight up into the sky, raising awareness for his real mission: proving the Earth is flat. Hughes hopes to raise awareness and money through today’s launch to fund that ambitious goal.
In an interview with the AP, Hughes said, “If you’re not scared to death, you’re an idiot. It’s scary as hell, but none of us are getting out of this world alive. I like to do extraordinary things that no one else can do, and no one in the history of mankind has designed, built and launched himself in his own rocket.”
Hughes is making the death-defying trip to help prove the Earth is really flat. If he survives this rocket launch, he’s already lining up support for another mission. On Facebook, Hughes writes, “There is a viable[sic] plan to put me up to the edge of space 62 miles up. The estimated cost is 1.8 million and we already have the fuel tank and propulsion system. This is the one true way to prove a flat earth. It would take just over 2 1/2 hours start to finish.”
Hughes is part of a movement of people that believe the Earth is flat and that science and data that says otherwise is part of a vast conspiracy. Flat Earthers believe the earth is a flat disk, with Antarctica acting an an ice wall on its edges. Many belong to the Flat Earth Society, which houses a Wiki of basic beliefs of members on its website. However, they write, “because there are different schools of Flat Earth thought, the Wiki should not necessarily be taken as the “official” view of the Society. The specific beliefs of our members are widely varied, as should be expected from such a group of free-thinkers!”
Hughes made the rocket himself from recycled scrap metal, painting it bright green with the words “Flat Earth.” Today’s launch will be broadcast live on the NoizeTV app at a cost of $5 per viewer. Spectators are not permitted at the launch site and Hughes has warned on Facebook that any drones spotted on the private property will be shot down.
Hughes built his original rocket for $20,000, using scrap metal and a motor home he purchased on Craigslist to serve as a launch pad. The steam powered device is a thermal rocket that uses water held in a pressure vessel at a high temperature, such that its saturated vapor pressure is significantly greater than ambient pressure. The water is allowed to escape as steam through a rocket nozzle to produce thrust.
There are safer ways to travel to much higher. Most commercial aircraft cruise along at about 35,000 feet; by spending a fraction of his rocket budget, he’d be able to get many times higher with the simple purchase of an airline ticket.
“I don’t believe in science,” said Hughes, whose main sponsor for the rocket is Research Flat Earth. “I know about aerodynamics and fluid dynamics and how things move through the air, about the certain size of rocket nozzles, and thrust. But that’s not science, that’s just a formula. There’s no difference between science and science fiction.”
Today’s launch wont be this dare devil’s first. In January 2014, Hughes was able to get to 1,374 feet. However, he collapsed after that landing. Hughes told reporters that G-forces from that flight took a toll on his body and he needed three days to recover from the short trip into the sky above.
Today’s launch will propel Hughes up off of Amboy, California. Amboy is private property owned by Albert Okura. Okura is confident Mad Mike will pull off the rocket jump without any hitches and hopes the launch will bring even more fame to the once-forgotten town. “If he’s successful, we’ll be known as ‘rocket town.’ It will be the most famous day in the history of Amboy.” Okura adds, “The icing on the cake would be a tweet from (President) Trump about the real “rocket man’. This is the real rocket man, he made his own rocket – he built it by himself.”