spaceSpace and Physics

Flat Earth Rocket Man Fails In His Latest Launch Attempt (But He Will Try Again)


Jonathan O'Callaghan

Senior Staff Writer

Mike Hughes by the launch pad on Saturday, February 3, after failing to launch. MGTV History/YouTube

It’s “Mad” Mike Hughes’ world, and we’re all living in it. The self-proclaimed flat-Earther who "doesn't believe in science" has failed in his latest bid to launch himself into the sky on his homemade rocket, meaning we’re gonna have to wait a little longer to find out Earth isn’t round.

Hughes had planned to launch his rocket on Saturday, February 3, from near Amboy in California, with a live stream capturing the action. However, after 11 minutes on the pad, he called the launch off, citing a faulty seal or actuator as a possible issue.


“So the only thing I know to do, I hate to disappoint everybody, it’s the last thing I want to do is climb out the thing, I’m ready,” Hughes said in a somewhat rambling YouTube video. “I did the best I could do.”

Hughes shot to stardom in November 2017 when he announced he would be launching himself in his rocket (again), this time emblazoned with “RESEARCH FLAT EARTH” branding to prove Earth is flat. He has built the steam-powered rocket himself for just $20,000, he claims. On launching, he’ll travel about 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) from the pad, at speeds of up to 800 kilometers (500 miles) per hour.

It’s estimated he’ll go to a height of a few hundred meters, far short of space itself (100 kilometers or 62 miles up) and not quite high enough to see much of Earth’s curvature; you could see a lot more from a passenger jet. Hughes noted the rocket needed to get high enough for him to deploy a parachute and bring him back safely to Earth, which is one of the reasons the launch was postponed.

Hughes launched before in 2014, when intense G-forces and a somewhat shoddy parachute caused quite bad injuries. That hasn’t deterred him from trying again, though, and he even wants to try and reach a height of 110 kilometers (68 miles) – actual space – at some point in the future.


Obviously, if you’re launching in a homemade rocket, you probably need everything to be in working order to avoid serious injury. That didn’t seem to be the case on Saturday, but Hughes will try again – although he noted he had to be “in court Tuesday as I’m suing the governor.”

“I’m only just one man,” said Mike.

“Proud of you Mike,” replied the modest crowd of a dozen or so. “You did your best.”

What a weird world we live in.


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