It's not the fall that kills you, it's the sudden stop.
Sixty-one year old limo driver "Mad" Mike Hughes' plan to launch himself into space in his homemade garage-rocket to prove that the Earth is flat hit a snag last week. And he blamed it on "big government".
The Bureau of Land Management blocked his intention to launch his rocket near the Mojave Desert ghost town of Amboy, California because the town is on public land. Undeterred, Hughes said he’s found private property in the area for the launch and could reschedule for as early as this afternoon (Tuesday 11/28).
He came to believe his Flat-Earth theory after “research[ing] it for several months in between doing everything else". Hughes told the Associated Press, "I don't believe in science. I know about aerodynamics and fluid dynamics and how things move through the air, about the certain size of rocket nozzles, and thrust. But that's not science, that's just a formula."
On the morning of the launch, Hughes will heat about 70 gallons of water (steam is apparently a critical element) in a stainless steel tank and then blast off between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. He plans to go about a mile, reaching an altitude of about 1,800 feet, before pulling two parachutes - not nearly high enough to prove anything about the curvature of the Earth. But he says it will be televised on the YouTube Channel.
Following his flight, Hughes intends to announce his candidacy for Governor of California. It remains to be seen if the announcement will be made posthumously.
Okay, so far, so funny. This fool could be launching his flying tea-kettle later today and will be lucky to survive his utterly pointless stunt, reaching an altitude of 1,800 feet, proving absolutely nothing about the curvature of the Earth.
Hughes says, "There's no difference between science and science fiction." Presumably, he'll also believe he has a time machine to return him to the hours before he was squashed like a bug on the desert floor. Very likely he'll be killed by a part of the Earth that is indeed quite flat.
The launch was originally scheduled for early 2016 beginning with a Kickstarter fundraising campaign “From Garage to Outer Space!”. Comparing himself to Evel Knievel, Hughes pitched it like a NASCAR event. However, his Kickstarter campaign raised only $310 of its $150,000 goal. Hilarious!
But then I read something that Hughes said that turned this preposterous stunt into something quite different than an object of ridicule. He said, “We want to do this and basically thumb our noses at all these billionaires trying to do this. They have not put a man in space yet.”
What??? Wait a second, I was there!
I broadcast live from Mojave Spaceport for the flights of Scaled Composites' Spaceship One, beginning in June of 2004. On October 13th, Pilot Brian Binnie reached an altitude of 354,200 feet thereby winning the Ansari X Prize for private manned spaceflight.
A joint venture of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, Microsoft's Paul Allen and Burt Rutan's Mojave-based Scaled Composites, SpaceshipOne was conceived as the first step toward "space tourism", but 13 years later, with over 700 people having already purchased a ticket, SpaceshipTwo has yet to carry passengers into space. *
I covered three flights of SpaceshipOne at the Mojave Spaceport, broadcasting live from a location at the edge of the tarmac, with a spectacular view, particularly of the landing when the spacecraft rolled to a stop directly in front of me.
Pilot Brian Binnie holds a sign: "SpaceshipOne/Government Zero"
It was absolutely thrilling and hopefully I was able to convey that to the audience.
The White Knight mother ship carried SpaceshipOne to a drop-launch altitude of approximately 45,000 feet at which the spacecraft would ignite its solid fuel engine and carry it to suborbital altitudes in excess of 350,000 feet.
White Knight & SpaceshipOne
Earth not looking very flat
SpaceShipOne now hangs in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.
* In October 2014, ten years after the successful flights of SpaceshipOne, SpaceshipTwo suffered a catastrophic failure while testing a new propellant, exploded and crashed killing one pilot and critically injuring another.
"We’ve always known that the road to space is extremely difficult - and that every new transportation system has to deal with bad days early in their history. Space is hard - but worth it. We will persevere and move forward together."