Flat Earth Rocketeer Says He Will Launch in Two Weeks

"Mad" Mike Hughes, a flat-Earth conspiracy theorist, appears to have a new rocket and a new launch date for his mission to prove our oblate spheroid world is actually a disc. (It isn't, and you can prove it yourself.)

Back in November 2017, Hughes announced plans to launch himself 1,800 feet (550 meters) above California's Mojave Desert in a homemade steam rocket. From that height, he said then, he would take photos that would prove the flatness of planet Earth.

However, 61-year-old Hughes initial launch plans — to fire himself skyward from a launch ramp in the ghost town of Amboy, accelerate to a speed of 500 mph, and parachute back to the ground as the rocket crash-landed 1 mile away — would have involved his $20,000 contraption smashing into Bureau of Land Management (BLM)-owned property. After the Associate Press first reported Hughes' plans to a wide audience, the BLM shut them down.

Now, according to several posts on his Facebook page (some of them buried in comments on other posts), Hughes has built a new rocket which he plans to launch from private land in Amboy Feb. 3. This rocket, it seems, will launch vertically, so it doesn't cross into BLM property.

In order to actually get high enough in the air to photograph the curvature of the Earth, Hughes would have to reach about 35,000 feet (10,700 meters) on a clear day — far higher than he has said he will rise in a homemade rocket.

Editor's note: This article was updated to indicate one would have to travel far higher than 35,000 feet to see Earth's curvature.

Originally published on Live Science.

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Rafi Letzter

Rafi wrote for Live Science from 2017 until 2021, when he became a technical writer for IBM Quantum. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of journalism. You can find his past science reporting at Inverse, Business Insider and Popular Science, and his past photojournalism on the Flash90 wire service and in the pages of The Courier Post of southern New Jersey.