A man trying to prove Earth is flat tried to launch himself high enough in a rocket to see the edge.
Not too surprisingly, he failed.
The would-be astronaut, “Mad” Mike Hughes, made a braver effort—launching oneself into space in a homemade rocket certainly takes a lot of bravery—but he crash-landed in the Mojave Desert, without the evidence he sought about the planet’s planar nature.
Hughes, 61, started his venture in 2017, but suffered numerous setbacks and delays—building a rocket is, well, rocket science, after all.
And science and “Mad” Mike are not on speaking terms.
“I don’t believe in science,” Hughes said, according to VT.com.
“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,” he said.
Despite knowing all the formulas, Hughes only managed to hit 1,875 feet of altitude before his craft malfunctioned.
No scientist is safety-averse, Hughes equipped his unguided missile with a pair of parachutes, so his landing was only a minor crash.
Still, he needed to be rushed to the hospital.
After the flight, Hughes said he was satisfied with the results.
“Am I glad I did it? Yeah. I guess. I’ll feel it in the morning,” he said. “I won’t be able to get out of bed. At least I can go home and have dinner and see my cats tonight.”
Rocket Made From Scrap
The most dangerous part of space flight is the inevitable explosion. Most rockets are propelled by a sustained, controlled explosion occurring in a very stout pressure vessel, designed to let the force escape in one direction only.
Anyone who has watched films of failed rocket launches has seen the sorts of conflagrations, which often ensue.
Hughes avoided all that by powering his rocket with steam. He calculated that he could build up enough pressure to launch himself a mile into the sky—at which height he would be able to see whether the planet was flat or curved.
He built his rocket out of scrap—discarded parts he repurposed and reworked into whatever he needed them to do. According to Facebook, Hughes—who drives a limousine for a living—spent $1.8 million on this flight.
He planned a launch in 2017 but the rocket just sat on the pad. He planned again for March 6, but he had problems with the pressure vessel and nozzle.
Finally, on March 24, he was ready to launch. He trucked the device out into the desert 200 miles east of Los Angeles, dug a pit, propped up his launch rail, and steamed off into the sky.
The rocket headed up, then heeled over in a flat arc almost parallel to Earth. After six seconds or so, the parachutes deployed.
A Solid Record of Failure
This is not “Mad” Mike’s first attempt at flight. In 2014, VT reports, he launched another rocket, this one over Arizona.
That flight also ended badly. Hughes was incapacitated for several weeks after that crash.
“If you’re not scared to death, you’re an idiot,” Hughes said in an interview. “It’s scary as hell, but none of us are getting out of this world alive. I’d 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 forgot to add, “and survived.”