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 homemade rocket on Monday as part of his quest to help prove that the Earth is flat. He was originally set to launch last weekend, but the BLM objected, requiring Hughes to complete permitting paperwork.
Rather than do such paperwork, Hughes moved his rocket and his Craigslist-purchased-mobile-home-turned-rocket-launch-platform deeper inside Amboy, California where he expects his flight to occur completely within the private land. Mr Hughes says he doesn’t need the BLM permits now that he’s flying within private land and has permission from the land owner. “I’m moving forward,” Mr Hughes said on Tuesday. “I’m a daredevil. I’m not much for authority or rules.”
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 built his rocket for $20,000, using scrap metal and a motor home he purchased on Craigslist to serve as a launch pad. The Saturday launch will involve heating roughly 70 gallons of water in a stainless steel tank before taking off between 2 pm and 3 pm local time. 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. When the rocket reaches an altitude of about 1,800 feet, Hughes plans to deploy two large parachutes to bring him safely back to Earth. While up there, he hopes to be able to see with his own eyes that the Earth is flat.
There are safer ways to travel to 1,800 feet and beyond. 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.”
Hughes plans to livestream his launch attempt on a pay-per-view website, http://www.madmikehughes.com.
Monday’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.