Flat-Earth Rocketeer Fails to Launch (Again)

flat earther rocket launch failure
(Image credit: Gene Blevins/Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG/Zuma)

The flat-Earth rocketeer remains planet-bound.

"Mad" Mike Hughes, a flat-Earth conspiracy theorist who has managed to get significant attention for his now-repeated failed rocket launches, strapped himself into his second homemade rocket Saturday (Feb. 3). But, as Noize TV documented in an excruciating 11-minute livestream of the event, Hughes' rocket never left its pad.

His stated plan, as Live Science previously reported, is to launch himself 1,800 feet (550 meters) above the desert in California and take photos before bailing out in a parachute. These photos, shot from a height anyone can reach by climbing a very tall building or even a small mountain, will, Hughes claims, show that the Earth is flat.

In fact, it's pretty easy for anyone to show that the Earth is round with a simple experiment — though the planet's curvature doesn't become visible to the naked eye until a height of about 35,000 feet (10,700 m).

Hughes canceled his previous launch after the Bureau of Land Management caught wind that he planned to crash his rocket into public land. In a video posted to YouTube, Hughes claimed that Saturday's failure resulted from a faulty plunger or a blown o-ring. However, he added that the details will remain unclear until the rocket cools down and he opens it up to examine it in detail.

Hughes went on to say that the launch could still happen this week — though he does have to be in court Tuesday because he's suing a range of California officials, from Gov. Jerry Brown to U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.

"It's just aggravating," he told a small crowd of reporters. "I mean, what do you do?"

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.