At one point in history, people actually got in rockets to explore the great unknown and make scientific discoveries humankind couldn’t have dreamed of just a half-century prior. Then Evel Knievel tried jumping Snake River Canyon in an ersatz rocket, and things took a turn.
We’ve degenerated to the point where the most famous rocketeer isn’t a NASA astronaut or Russian cosmonaut, but a Californian idiotonaut who decided he was going to construct a homemade rocket to prove that the world was flat.
According to The Washington Post, Mike Hughes believes the world is shaped like a frisbee, probably because someone on the internet said so. The 61-year-old limousine is “on a mission to prove that the Earth is flat and that NASA astronauts such as John Glenn and Neil Armstrong were merely paid actors performing in front of a computer-generated image of a round globe.”
Men like this usually get famous by shilling vitamin supplements on dodgy radio shows, but Hughes has a certain set of skills that make him at least slightly credible as a rocket builder. (Key word: slightly.) He holds the Guinness world record for a limo jump (set back in 2002) and has previously launched homemade rockets that have flown over a quarter of a mile.
In other words, he has a very rudimentary grasp of physics — not enough to convince him that the earth is round, mind you, but enough that maybe he wasn’t going to kill himself when he launched himself into the sky with a steam-powered rocket with “Flat Earth” written on the side from a location 200 miles east of Los Angeles in the Mojave Desert.
So, how’d it go? Take a look (WARNING: A lot of bad language.)
Not quite as bad as you might imagine, but he did have to be taken away on a stretcher in an ambulance after that rough landing.
“Am I glad I did it? Yeah. I guess. I’ll feel it in the morning. I won’t be able to get out of bed,” Hughes said. “At least I can go home and have dinner and see my cats tonight.”
You can insert your own cat-person joke here.
Hughes says that he wants to eventually build a rocket which can go up 52 miles so that he can see that the Earth is actually a frisbee.
Given that last week’s launch — during which he reached speeds of 350 miles per hour — got him 1,875 feet vertically into the air, that means he’s only got, um, 272,685 feet to go to reach his goal.
Hughes, however, isn’t about to give up his dreams.
“Do I believe the Earth is shaped like a frisbee? I believe it is,” Hughes told the Los Angeles Times. “Do I know for sure? No. That’s why I want to go up in space.”
Space isn’t the only thing on Hughes’ mind, however: he also wants to run for governor of California.
“This is no joke,” Hughes said. “I want to do it.”
Can’t be any crazier than Jerry Brown, I suppose.
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