“Mad Mike” Hughes, a self-made engineer and Flat Earth conspiracy theorist, died February 22 after attempting to launch 5,000 feet with a steam-powered homemade rocket in Barstow California. He was 64.
The stunt was part of an upcoming Science Channel series Homemade Astronauts. Science Channel confirmed Hughes’ tragic death with a statement published on Twitter.
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
A video shows the moment of the launch, where the parachute deployed too early and caused the accident can be seen drifting behind the rocket.
“Mad Mike” was famous for his belief that the Eart was flat, and he wanted to prove his theory by going to space. He wanted to see the Earth's shape with his own eyes.
In an interview, he said, “Do I believe the Earth is shaped like a Frisbee? I believe it is,” he had said. “Do I know for sure? No? That’s why I want to go up in space.”
However, apparently his Flat-Earther persona could have been a PR stunt. In a BuzzFeed News interview, public relations representative Dabid Shuster said, “We used flat Earth as a PR stunt. Period. He was a true daredevil decades before the latest round of rocket missions. Flat Earth allowed us to get so much publicity that we kept going! I know he didn’t believe in flat Earth and it was schtick.”
Regardless of whose words you choose to go by, Hughes had previously said that he was doing his rockets because he wanted to convince people to do extraordinary things with their lives. And most of all, he wanted to inspire people all around the world.