The 64-year-old Hughes died after the parachute on his steam-powered rocket detached during the launch, meaning that there was no way of safely landing the rocket near Barstow in the California desert.

By Ian Horswill

Posted on February 24, 2020

Mad Mike Hughes, a believer that the earth is flat, died after launching a home-made rocket, the first of three to be featured in Homemade Astronauts, a new series for Science Channel.

The 64-year-old Hughes was killed after the parachute on his steam-powered rocket detached during the launch. Mad Mike Hughes had to activate the parachute to safely land the rocket near Barstow in the California desert. Without it he crashed to the ground at a fatal speed.

The rocket, with Hughes attached, crashed back to the ground 20 seconds later, with a small puff of dust emanating on impact, BBC News reported.

Science Channel were filming the event for the series that was meant to follow three self-financed teams with dreams to explore space, the final frontier, on limited budgets. Mad Mike Hughes was aiming to get as close to space from earth as possible, known as the Karman line, about 62 miles above Earth’s surface, without the use of advanced technology deployed at NASA, Blue Origin or SpaceX.

Hughes and Waldo Stakes built the rocket that was meant to launch Mad Mike Hughes 5,000 feet into the air. Mad Mike Hughes posted on his Facebook page on 7 January: “Just wait till my next launch! This year I will first launch 1 mile up … then I will go to space.”

Darren Shuster, a former representative for Hughes, told TMZ Mad Mike Hughes was “one-of-a-kind”.

“When God made Mike he broke the mould. The man was the real deal and lived to push the edge. He wouldn’t have gone out any other way! RIP” he said.

Freelance journalist Justin Chapman told AP News that the rocket appeared to rub against the launch apparatus, which might have caused the mishap with the parachute.

“Everyone was stunned. They didn’t know what to do,” said Chapman, who had been working on a profile of Hughes. “He landed about a half a mile away from the launch pad.”

In March 2018, Hughes propelled himself about 1,875 feet (570 meters) into the air. He deployed one parachute and then a second one but still suffered a hard landing in the Mojave Desert in California, and injured his back.

“This thing wants to kill you 10 different ways,” Hughes said after that launch. “This thing will kill you in a heartbeat.”

He said in a video, published by BBC News, that his goal was to eventually fly to the edge of outer space to determine for himself whether the world is round.

“I don’t want to take anyone else’s word for it,” he said in the video. “I don’t know if the world is flat or round.”

In another video posted on his YouTube site, Hughes said he also wanted “to convince people they can do things that are extraordinary with their lives.”

“My story really is incredible,” Hughes once told The Associated Press. “It’s got a bunch of story lines — the garage-built thing. I’m an older guy. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, plus the Flat Earth. The problem is it brings out all the nuts also.”