The conspiracy theory that the Earth is flat rather than round has gained significant traction in recent months, and a 61-year-old California man named Mike Hughes is one of the theory’s most outspoken advocators.
In an attempt to prove the theory once and for all, Hughes built his very own rocket out of scrap parts and a supplementary budget capped at $20,000. Furthermore, he installed a seat for one in which he would sit when the rocket blasted off.
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Unlike traditional rockets, which burn a flammable propellant to achieve flight, Hughes’ rocket operated on steam and achieved pressures of 340 PSI just before liftoff. It was enough to push the manned rocket more than 1,800 feet into the air at speeds exceeding 350 miles per hour when it took off from California’s Mojave Desert on Saturday, March 24th.
Once the rocket reached its peak altitude, parachutes deployed to slow the descent back to Earth. These ensured that Hughes would emerge from the spent rocket unscathed.
Thanks to a handful of cameras set up all around the launch site, the magnificent event was captured as it took place:
Despite all initial doubt, Hughes survived the launch and landed safely. He didn’t suffer from any broken bones or significant injuries, but he says it was a bit sore the morning after the launch.
“This thing wants to kill you ten different ways,” Hughes said after the launch. “Am I glad I did it? Yeah. I guess. I’ll feel it in the morning. I won’t be able to get out of bed. At least I can go home and have dinner and see my cats tonight.”
While Hughes survived the launch, did he prove the Earth was flat? No, not really. But he did pull off a remarkable stunt and left much of the world awestruck.
“Do I believe the Earth is shaped like a Frisbee? I believe it is,” he added. “Do I know for sure? No. That’s why I want to go up in space.”
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t try this at home. Hughes is an accomplished self-taught rocket scientist; that said, he can bend that rule a little bit.