Filming fo the Science Channel series, Homemade Astronauts, with the help of his partner Waldo Sykes, Hughes’s goal was to reach 5,000 feet in the air while riding his steam-powered rocket, according to Space.com. The series, produced by World of Wonder, was set to premiere some time in 2020. Hughes and Stakes were one of three teams that working to get as close to space, “or the Karman line, the invisible “line” which is 62 miles (99.78 km) above Earth’s surface that is often thought of as the beginning of space.”
Video of the tragic accident, which took place in Barstow, California, was captured by reporter Justin Chapman.
Hughes was known for attempting to blast off in a rocket that was made using mostly spare parts and during a launch in March 2018, he needed to deploy his parachute after making it a half-mile into the sky. Hughes said afterward, “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. At least I can go home and have dinner and see my cats tonight.”
Here’s what you need to know about Mad Mike Hughes:
1. Mad Mike Believed The Earth Was Flat
A self-taught engineer, Hughes was also a staunch flat-earther. During his failed rocket launch in March 2018, the $20K rocket was named “Research Flat Earth,” and was crowdfunded by a group of the same name.
It seemed odd to many that Hughes believed the Earth was flight despite being a rocket engineer. According to PubMed.com, to visuall see the Earth’s curvature one must travel to an altitude of around 35,000 feet.
2. Mad Mike Was Attempting To Build a ‘Rock-oon’
The Science Channel show, Homemade Astronauts, documented three self-financed teams as they attempt to get a rocket into space on a shoestring budget.
In a press release shared by The Hollywood Reporter, “Mike Hughes and Waldo Stakes are working on a manned rocket to space, designing what they call a “rock-oon” — part rocket, part balloon — that they hope to use to get Hughes to the Karman line, the border between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space, which is about 62 miles high. To raise money and awareness, they plan to first launch Hughes 5,000 feet high in a steam-powered rocket.”
3. Mad Mike Set A Guinness World Record In 2002 For Longest Jump In A Lincoln Town Car Limo
Hughes told Forbes in 2018, “People think I’m rich and I’m making all this money off these rocket launches. Hell, I’m on Medicaid!”
However, Hughes seemed to love his day job and proudly turned his limo into a vehicle that could be mistaken for a Batmobile. On September 28, 2002, he made into the Guinness Book of World Records after jumping 103 feet in a 6,500 ton Lincoln Town Car stretch limousine at Perris Auto Speedway.
4. Mad Mike Was The Star Subject Of The Documentary ‘Rocketman’
Released in August 2019, this 94-minute documentary, co-directed by Toby Brusseau and Michael Linn, starred Mike Hughes, Waldo Sykes, Patrick Marchese. It featured the homemade rocket engineers on their mission to prove that the Earth was flat, and shaped like a frisbee.
5. Mad Mike Hughes’ First Rocket Launch Left Him Using A Walker For Two Weeks
When Hughes manned his first rocket launch on January 30, 2014, he soared 1,374 feet in the sky in under a minute. As reported by the CBC, Hughes collapsed following the landing in Winkleman, Arizona. It took him three days to recover, and it was a while before he was back to full speed.
In March 2018, he said of his rocket, “This thing wants to kill you 10 different ways. This thing will kill you in a heartbeat.”