A daredevil was killed over the weekend when his homemade rocket crashed as part of a Science Channel show taping. “Mad” Mike Hughes, 62, was killed when his steam-powered rocket crashed after a launch near Barstow, California. According to reports, Hughes was attempting to prove the Earth is flat by reaching space in a homemade, crowdfunded craft.
Hughes’ exploits were part of a new Science Channel series, Homemade Astronauts, in which the flat earther was attempting a “cosmic quest to explore the final frontier on a shoestring budget.” The Science Channel released a statement on Saturday admitting it was filming Hughes as well as announcing his death.
Michael ‘Mad Mike’ Hughes tragically passed away today during an attempt to launch his homemade rocket. Our thoughts & prayers go out to his family & friends during this difficult time. It was always his dream to do this launch & Science Channel was there to chronicle his journey pic.twitter.com/GxwjpVf2md
— Science Channel (@ScienceChannel) February 23, 2020
According to a report from The Associated Press, witnesses say the rocket may have rubbed up against the launch structure, possibly tearing the parachutes meant to provide a safe landing. There’s video of the fatal crash, though it does show the vehicle hitting the ground with Hughes in it. USA Today also reported that this wasn’t the first time Hughes crashed a homemade rocket, as he had plans to reach space in his vehicles.
Hughes – a flat-earth conspiracy theorist – and business partner Waldo Stakes built a steam powered rocket designed to launch Hughes 5,000 feet into the air. The launch was supposed to be the first step toward an even more ambitious goal to launch Mike 62 miles into the air, clearing the Karman Line — the border between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space.
The duo was still developing a plan using a rocket and a balloon for the second launch. Saturday’s launch was a steppingstone to raise awareness for their project, the statement said.
Hughes made headlines in 2018 when he converted an old mobile home into a ramp for his rocket and launched in the Mojave desert, crashing after reaching nearly 2,000 feet in the launch.
[via USA Today]