The flat-earther who first made headlines for his plan to rocket himself through the same layer of the atmosphere we all inhabit has successfully launched his craft, blasting himself roughly 1,875 feet into the air before descending to Earth.
“Mad” Mike Hughes took off on March 25, 2018, in a steam-powered rocket. His initial flight attempts were canceled after technical problems and issues related to his lack of permits for launching spacecraft on public property. Hughes then relocated to a new site and prepped his rocket for a new vertical take-off system, after deciding he didn’t want to take the chance of ticking off the Bureau of Land Management by landing over public property. Technical problems have delayed his launches until the present day.
Hughes’ intrepid flight through the lower troposphere gave him a view of the Earth matched only by multiple buildings you can visit. The Burj Khalifa, Shanghai Tower, Makkah Royal Clock Tower, Ping An Finance Center, Goldin Finance 117 (under construction), and Lotte World Tower are all taller. On the other hand, Hughes managed to briefly surpass the maximum height of One World Trade Center in New York and Willis Tower in Chicago.
Hughes, who famously told world+dog that he doesn’t believe in science, was asked by the AP how it felt to complete his endeavor. “Relieved,” he said after being checked out by paramedics. “I’m 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.”
Hughes now hopes to build a “Rockoon,” a rocket launched from a high-altitude balloon. Rockoons have been used in the past (you can read about them on Wikipedia), but a manned rockoon has never been launched. Hughes would need to substantially up his garage game — building a pressure suit and high-altitude balloons plus a rocket capable of igniting and a vehicle he could survive ejecting from that high up are all far more difficult than the steam-powered rocket he launched from a converted trailer.
“My story really is incredible,” Hughes said. “It’s got a bunch of story lines — the garage-built thing. I’m an older guy. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, plus the Flat Earth. The problem is it brings out all the nuts also, people questioning everything. It’s the downside of all this.”
Let it henceforth be known that a man who claims he can build a rocket in his garage that will disprove several thousand years of scientific research and evidence ranging from the Ancient Greeks to the present day believes the rest of us are “nuts.” All things considered, I suppose that’s not surprising.
AP freelancer Matt Hartman caught the launch on video; you can watch it on YouTube (embedding is disabled).