A Flat-Earther is planning on firing himself a mile in the air on a homemade, steam-powered rocket
How far would you go to prove those know-it-all scientists wrong about the Earth being round? For most flat-earthers, the extent of dissent is nattering away with each other in online echochambers – a safe space where mean old scientists can’t bamboozle them with their book learnin’, long words and calculations. Others though: they just have to see for themselves. If Elon Musk can build his own rockets, why can’t 61-year-old daredevil “Mad” Mike Hughes?
As a rule of thumb, it’s best not to trust the aerodynamics of anyone with “Mad” in their name, just as I wouldn’t have trusted Mad Frankie Fraser to take me for a spin in a private jet. Nonetheless, Hughes is confident that his $20,000 rocket has what it takes and then some. “I don’t believe in science,” Hughes explained in a statement that should absolutely inspire confidence in his methodology. “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. There’s no difference between science and science fiction.”
He has done this kind of stuff before:
This time, the plan is that his steam-powered rocket will take him a mile up into the air at a speed of 500mph, before he parachutes out, and lands safely.
A mile into the air, you may have noticed, falls well short of the Karman line where scientists agree we leave the Earth’s atmosphere – in fact, it doesn’t even leave the troposphere. Hot air balloons routinely go higher than this. Nonetheless, Hughes has that unshakable confidence that this will eventually lead him to blast into space – where he intends to snap a photograph of Earth from above, proving once and for all that Earth is really flat.
One way or another, this is going to end in tears.
In a flat-Earth community show, Hughes described Elon Musk as “a giant fraud”, and NASA astronauts John Glenn and Neil Armstrong as “Freemasons” who were involved in “the roots of the deception” that the Earth is round. “I’ve been a believer for maybe almost a year. I researched it for several months in between doing everything else,” he said on the subject of Flat Earth.
It’s very hard to reason with conspiracy theorists, for all kinds of reasons, but to talk to them in their own language for a moment, how much should we take Hughes’ words at their face value? Is it possible he actually believes NASA’s take on space science, but is happy to have conspiracy theorists fund his expensive hobby? Hughes is funded largely by the support of the Flat Earth Society, which brands his homemade rocket. His GoFundMe page, which amassed $7,890 from 132 people, plays heavily on the Earth being flat. His first attempt to raise funds for the project on Kickstarter didn’t mention the Earth being flat at all, and attracted a cumulative donation of $310 from two people. Some way short of its ambitious $150,000 goal.
You can watch Hughes’ mission on “internet pay per view” through his website.