61-year-old stuntman and amateur Flat Earth theory researcher "Mad" Mike Hughes, who planned to launch himself some 550m up at 800km/h in an untested homemade steam-powered rocket over the Mojave Desert ghost town of Amboy, California yesterday in some sort of gambit to prove the Earth is flat (spoilers: it's not), will not be doing any of that that this weekend.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch on October 30, 2017. Photo: AP
Instead, Hughes told the Washington Post, Big Daddy Government has thrown a few obstacles in his way.
Per the Post, the Bureau of Land Management has confirmed it had no record of giving Hughes "verbal permission" to hold the rocket launch on public lands as he had previously claimed, meaning that the rocketeer has decided to delay the launch date and move the location "three miles [4.83km] down the road".
Mike Hughes is a limo driver who has built his own steam-powered rocket. The 61-year-old plans to strap himself into his experimental rocket and blast off from a ghost town in the Mojave Desert. https://t.co/BMPGKBN72S pic.twitter.com/BSxdtNNLYR
— NBC10 Philadelphia (@NBCPhiladelphia) November 20, 2017
"I don't see [the launch] happening until about Tuesday, honestly," Hughes told the Post. "It takes three days to set up... You know, it's not easy because it's not supposed to be easy."
"Someone from our local office reached out to him after seeing some of these news articles [about the launch], because that was news to them," BLM spokesperson Samantha Storms told the paper.
It's not the first time Hughes has planned to launch himself into the sky in a homemade rocket — a prior attempt in 2014 earned himself injuries from intense G-forces and a rough landing — but as the Post noted, he's only recently become a Flat Earth convert "after struggling for months to raise funds".
Hence the "RESEARCH FLAT EARTH" slogan on the side of his rocket, and Hughes' plans to launch himself progressively higher into the sky if Saturday's planned event was a non-lethal success.
In a Kickstarter post from 2016, Hughes wrote "Mad Mike Hughes always wanted to be famous. So much that he decided 'What can I do to become and instant super star dare devil?' So he decided to break the world record for the longest ramp jump in the world ... He is the current world record holder for a ramp rocket jump, but he wants to shatter that record on February 12th 2016 (Just 1 day before his 60th birthday)."
While crowdfunding only raised him $US310 ($407) of his $US150,000 ($196,918) goal then, the Flat Earth connection later helped him raise $US8000 ($10,502) of the eventual $US20,000 ($26,256) it cost to build the rocket.
However, the BLM decision seems to have bought Hughes some time before the potentially deadly manned test of his DIY scalding steam missile — time which he apparently does not intend to use to reconsider whether this is a good idea.
"I don't believe in science," Hughes previously told the Associated Press. "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."