The American stuntman Michael Hughes (64) – also known as “Mad” Mike Hughes and “Rocketman” – died on Saturday when he shot himself into the air with a self-made rocket. With the launch, he wanted to prove that the earth is flat. But he bought that with his life.
Four years ago, “Mad” Mike Hughes began to brood on plans to build a rocket himself. Under the motto, “I don’t take anyone’s word for it,” the self-proclaimed “flat-earther” wanted to get a definitive answer about the shape of our planet once and for all.
“Do I think the earth has the shape of a Frisbee? I believe so,” he said in a video on Facebook. “Am I sure about that? No, you’re not. And that is why I want to go into space myself to see it with my own eyes.”
After two unsuccessful attempts, Hughes succeeded in a first real launch over the Mojave Desert in March 2018 with a homemade steam rocket. More or less, anyway.
The daredevil managed to reach an altitude of 570 meters at a speed of about 560 kilometers per hour, before making a soft landing with his parachutes. “Am I glad I did it? Yes, I think so,” he said after a check-up at the hospital. “I’ll be sure to feel it tomorrow; I won’t get out of bed. But I can go home tonight, have something to eat and see my cats.”
In a conversation with AP, he said that he was “tired of people thinking he would not dare”. “I admonished myself and did it.”
Saturday, it was time for attempt number two. Hughes wanted to get much higher this time in the California desert with his steam rocket, 1,525 meters to be precise. The launch near Barstow was filmed for Science Channel’s new TV-series ‘Homemade Astronauts’.
Unfortunately, it went wrong right away. The parachute that ‘Rocketman’ should have slowed down during its landing shot open just seconds after takeoff. Hughes himself fell back down without a parachute and hit the ground hard. The man did not survive the crash.