For flat-earthers, the Earth is shaped like a disk, with the North Pole at the center and a massive wall of ice holding our oceans back from flowing out into infinity. The theory has gained quite the following on the internet, including famous believer, rapper B.o.B.
And one man among the community is seeking to prove the theory in a somewhat haphazard way: by launching himself over a California ghost town at 500 mph in a $20,000 homemade rocket made from scrap metal and a launch pad consisting of a motor home purchased on Craigslist.
Mike Hughes—or “Mad” Mike Hughes, as he likes to be called—is a 61-year-old limousine driver who lives in California and is a recent convert to the flat Earth theory.
Hughes is currently preparing for his big launch on Saturday, when he plans to take off in his rocket over the ghost town of Amboy—which has a recorded population of four—located in the Mojave Desert and along Route 66.
The launch will involve heating some 70 gallons of water in a stainless steel tank before taking off between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. local time. Hughes plans to hit an altitude of 1,800 feet before pulling his two parachutes.
“If you’re not scared to death, you’re an idiot,” Hughes told the AP. “It’s scary as hell, but none of us are getting out of this world alive.”
Hughes has built a reputation for himself as something of a daredevil. In 2002, he set a Guinness World Record for the longest limousine ramp jump after driving a three-ton Lincoln Town Car 103 feet through the air.
In 2014, he launched himself in a rocket from a private property in Arizona, traveling 1,374 feet before a crash-landing that wasn’t very well aided by a hole-ridden parachute. The landing left Hughes out of action for three days.
The main sponsor for Saturday’s rocket launch is Research Flat Earth, a group that promotes investigation into the shape of the Earth. And while Hughes said he knows a bit about what he’s doing, he’s not too concerned by the science behind it.
“I don’t believe in science,” said Hughes, describing aerodynamics and fluid dynamics as “not science, that’s just a formula” and adding “there’s no difference between science and science fiction.”
Flat Earth theory proposes that the Earth is not spherical—a theory that has been widely accepted since it was proposed by ancient Greek philosophers over 2,000 years ago—and disregards or casts doubt on photographic evidence to the contrary.
It also proposes that historic instances of space travel constitute a conspiracy concocted by astronauts and space agencies, devised so that they can embezzle the money spent by states on their space programs.
While Hughes may not be able to prove the disputed theory on this rocket launch alone, he said he has plans to launch more rockets and will keep striving to dispel the accepted round Earth theory. He also has plans to run for the governorship of California.
Maybe take one thing at a time, Mike.
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