A daredevil and “flat-earther” was killed Saturday while trying to launch himself 5,000 feet into the air on a steam-powered, homemade rocket in the California desert.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department confirmed that a man had died in Barstow after a “rocket crashed in the open desert during a rocket launch event” but but did not identify the victim.
But the Science Channel, which was filming the launch for its new series Homemade Astronauts confirmed that well-known amateur rocket-maker “Mad” Mike Hughes had been killed.
“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,” the channel said in a tweet.
Video of the launch posted online showed the flight going awry from the start, with parachutes meant to carry Hughes safely back to the ground ripping away right after blast-off.
The limo driver had been vowing since 2017 to ride his rocket into the air, in part to get high enough to confirm his totally incorrect belief that the Earth is flat.
He had two failed launch dates but in March 2018 managed to get 1,800 feet in the air above the Mojave Desert before parachuting back down in the nose cone, making a hard landing, according to Space.com.
“I'm tired of people saying I chickened out and didn't build a rocket. I'm tired of that stuff. I manned up and did it,” he said at the time.
In August 2019, he tried again—hoping to reach 5,000 feet, but the boiler he bought on Craigslist reportedly conked out and the mission was aborted.
As The Daily Beast reported last year, Hughes sued YouTube megastar Logan Paul for including him in a mockumentary about the flat-earth movement, claiming he was filmed at a conference under false pretenses.
“He came in using fraud and deception,” Hughes told The Daily Beast.
“I’m not one to screw with when I get pissed off. I know how to shut you down.”