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Earth Space Science

Flat-Earther's Steam-Powered Rocket Lofts Him 1,875 Feet Up Into Mojave Desert (latimes.com) 410

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Los Angeles Times: "Mad" Mike Hughes, the rocket man who believes the Earth is flat, propelled himself about 1,875 feet into the air Saturday before a hard landing in the Mojave Desert. He told the Associated Press that outside of an aching back he's fine after the launch near Amboy, Calif. The launch in the sparsely populated desert town about 150 miles east of Los Angeles -- was originally scheduled in November. It was scrubbed several times due to logistical issues with the Bureau of Land Management and mechanical problems that kept popping up. The 61-year-old limo driver converted a mobile home into a ramp and modified it to launch from a vertical angle so he wouldn't fall back to the ground on public land. For months he's been working on overhauling his rocket in his garage. It looked like Saturday might be another in a string of cancellations, given that the wind was blowing and his rocket was losing steam. Ideally, they wanted it at 350 psi for maximum thrust, but it was dropping to 340. Sometime after 3 p.m. PDT, and without a countdown, Hughes' rocket soared into the sky. Hughes reached a speed that Stakes estimated to be around 350 mph before pulling his parachute. Hughes was dropping too fast, though, and he had to deploy a second one. He landed with a thud and the rocket's nose broke in two places like it was designed to do.
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Flat-Earther's Steam-Powered Rocket Lofts Him 1,875 Feet Up Into Mojave Desert

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  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @11:37PM (#56325931) Journal

    The 61-year-old limo driver converted a mobile home into a ramp and modified it to launch from a vertical angle so he wouldn't fall back to the ground on public land. For months he's been working on overhauling his rocket in his garage.

    This dude is a fucking inspiration.

    "Mad" Mike Hughes, I salute you.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 25, 2018 @11:46PM (#56325957)

      Did he prove that the earth is flat?

      • by silverkniveshotmail. ( 713965 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @11:54PM (#56325981) Journal
        Of course. If you can't see the curvature of a 12,000km sphere from 1,900ft it's scientifically flat.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2018 @12:49AM (#56326171)

          and yet from there he could have just taken the gondola in Palm Springs up to the top of Mt San Jacinto and gotten almost 10x higher than he did. Or hike to the top of Mt Whitney, and just look out to the east.
          Or for about the same altitude, just go to Chicago, go to the top of Sears Tower. Tgen explain how on a clear day one can see over to Michigan, and reconcile why one cannot see it from Lake Shore Drive.

          • and yet from there he could have just taken the gondola in Palm Springs up to the top of Mt San Jacinto and gotten almost 10x higher than he did. Or hike to the top of Mt Whitney, and just look out to the east.
            Or for about the same altitude, just go to Chicago, go to the top of Sears Tower. Tgen explain how on a clear day one can see over to Michigan, and reconcile why one cannot see it from Lake Shore Drive.

            If he had done that he wouldn't have had his 15 minutes of fame or have a topic on Slashdot about him. He is getting "press" for flat earth by doing a stupid stunt like this. Not sure how many people he will convince (probably not many), but it's bringing attention to the fact that there are people who still think the earth is flat.

          • by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Monday March 26, 2018 @12:24PM (#56328403)

            He doesn't think the earth is flat. He thinks he wanted to ride a homemade rocket. He tried other funding sources before suddenly deciding that the earth must be flat and getting flat-earthers to sponsor his toy.

        • by saloomy ( 2817221 ) on Monday March 26, 2018 @12:50AM (#56326173)

          I don't understand, 1900ft? There are buildings taller than that! Why the expense of a rocket? Why not go get on a hot air ballon? The rides are like $40....

        • by LesFerg ( 452838 )

          But if he believes the earth is a flat disc then wouldn't he just say that explains why the edge looked curved?

      • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @11:59PM (#56326003) Journal

        Did he prove that the earth is flat?

        That doesn't matter. None of the flat earth stuff matters. Columbus thought he was sailing to India.

        "Mad" Mike Hughes embodies the real American spirit. He had a dream and he put his life on the line for it and shot himself into the air on a homemade goddamn rocket. It's the unifying concept of Westward, Ho! except he was already in California and couldn't go West any more, so he turned a goddamn mobile home into a goddamn launch pad.

        Jesus, if you guys can't see how magnificent that is, your souls have been hollowed out.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          he turned a goddamn mobile home into a goddamn launch pad

          Breaking Mad

        • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Monday March 26, 2018 @01:15AM (#56326229) Homepage

          Hey, he embodies the American spirit. The human spirit, really, in which your dreams are more important than reality.

          • Hey, he embodies the American spirit. The human spirit, really, in which your dreams are more important than reality.

            To quote Michael on The Good Place [wikipedia.org]:

            Michael: All I really ever wanted was to know what it feels like to be human, and now we’re going to do the most human thing of all: attempt something futile with a ton of unearned confidence and fail spectacularly!

        • Agreed, I can't help but root cor this guy.

        • by quantaman ( 517394 ) on Monday March 26, 2018 @01:54AM (#56326305)

          That doesn't matter. None of the flat earth stuff matters. Columbus thought he was sailing to India.

          Columbus was a bit loopy thinking he could reach India, this dude is completely bonkers, there's no comparison.

          "Mad" Mike Hughes embodies the real American spirit. He had a dream and he put his life on the line for it and shot himself into the air on a homemade goddamn rocket. It's the unifying concept of Westward, Ho! except he was already in California and couldn't go West any more, so he turned a goddamn mobile home into a goddamn launch pad.

          Jesus, if you guys can't see how magnificent that is, your souls have been hollowed out.

          I'll give him full props for going through with it, I thought the whole rocket thing was a scam. The fact he actually built a rocket and launched himself into the sky is an awesome example of determination and ingenuity.

          But he's still loopier than a bag of yarn.

          • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Monday March 26, 2018 @02:03AM (#56326325) Journal

            But he's still loopier than a bag of yarn.

            Yes, but in a way, doesn't that make the story even more inspiring?

            I don't know what's happened to so many Slashdot commenters who can't see beyond the mundane. Has the world beaten you down so much? "Mad" Mike Hughes has just pulled off one of the great "hold my beer" moments in history and you're pissing and moaning about it. (not you, quantaman. I think you can see a little bit of the beauty in what this crazy sonofabitch just did.)

            • I don't know what's happened to so many Slashdot commenters who can't see beyond the mundane. Has the world beaten you down so much? "Mad" Mike Hughes has just pulled off one of the great "hold my beer" moments in history and you're pissing and moaning about it.

              Well, let's just change the narrative instead of complaining about the complainers. I'll start with a Slashdotian "My way is better" rant.

              Why this guy decided to use steam was lame. Any amateur rocketeer with a working brain cell would have used something else.

              Solid Rocket Boosters FTW!

              Steam means you have to have the total energy expenditure all at once since the fuel is actually on the ground, not carried in the body of the rocket.

              Any real amateur rocketeer would have produced his own fuel in

          • by tigersha ( 151319 ) on Monday March 26, 2018 @03:38AM (#56326509) Homepage

            Columbus was taking a shot into the unknown. This guy is not.

        • Good point, it's a great achievement.
          The 'american appropriation' bit is contentious. Go West was about enterprise and opportunity.
          This is more about British bloodyminded individualism which goes against the flow. The consensus was that he was just an idiot about to kill himself.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jrumney ( 197329 )
        Yes, he went up 1875 feet and the Earth still looked flat from there, as anyone who has been to the top of a moderately sized hill can tell you.
      • by jwhyche ( 6192 )

        Yes, to him he did. His goal was never to prove the earth isn't flat. Just to prove that it is. From the altitude that he achieved, ~1900 feet, he could not see the curvature of the earth. Thus proving to himself, and the rest of the idiots, that the earth isn't round, so therefor it must be flat.

        Mission Accomplished!!

      • by jwhyche ( 6192 )

        An on this note. I have to report the failure of my kickstarter campaign to fund my plan to lower a capsule over the side of the flat earth. In which I would have attempted to make contact with the giant turtle that we all ride up on. This the true name and sex of the turtle will remain unknown to us.

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      He managed to not kill himself. That's actually pretty amazing. I know he's crazy but he does seem to have some skills.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo ( 965947 )

        I know he's crazy but he does seem to have some skills.

        I mean, right? He's 61 goddamn years old. Most 61 year olds' biggest concern is an enlarged prostate and their blood sugar levels. This crazy bastard is trying to launch himself into space from the roof of a mobile home. I cannot understand how I'm maybe the only one here who can see how truly wonderful this is.

        • by SirSlud ( 67381 )

          Most 61 year olds' biggest concern is an enlarged prostate and their blood sugar levels.

          That's about as American-centric as an assertion as you can get.

          • by cstacy ( 534252 )

            Most 61 year olds' biggest concern is an enlarged prostate and their blood sugar levels.

            That's about as American-centric as an assertion as you can get.

            A quick glance at 2015 statistics suggests that over half of Europeans (this study used Northern Ireland) aged 55-64 are sedentary for over four hours on weekdays (mainly watching TV). As for blood sugar, diabetes is an epidemic in Europe and accounts for more than 1 in 10 deaths there (not counting the complications: amputations and blindness and kidney failure and stroke).

            You're assertion is about as ignorant as a European moron cam get.

        • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

          I'm onboard with what you're saying, though I don't get your amazement at being 61. I've worked with plenty of brilliant people in their 60s. Also, I think some folks at that age start losing their fear of death, and are looking for a way to leave a meaningful legacy.

      • I thought for sure he was going to die if he ever went up in a rocket. The fact he is not dead - lots more respect to him than I had before, even if I happen to think the Earth is round. Not like I'm going to fling myself up in a rocket to argue against him...

        I would 100% vote for him if he ever ran somewhere I could vote for him. Or heck, if he's running in California anyone can vote for him!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mr0bvious ( 968303 )

      But did it really happen?

      There were lots of videos and witnesses to his previous cancelled/failed launches.

      This successful launch has no video (that's been shared) and scant witnesses.

      So far it's a cool story without any evidence, not even a photo of the landed craft.

      My bullshit meter it push that needle pretty hard right now.

      • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Monday March 26, 2018 @12:31AM (#56326107) Journal

        But did it really happen?

        There were lots of videos and witnesses to his previous cancelled/failed launches.

        This successful launch has no video (that's been shared) and scant witnesses.

        Of course there was video. VIdeo of the launch and video of paramedics extracting him from the crashed spacecraft. More than one video, too. The main one was shot by an AP cameraman. All sorts of witnesses, too.

        Where did you get the idea there were no videos or photos?

        https://gizmodo.com/at-long-la... [gizmodo.com]

        • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Monday March 26, 2018 @01:21AM (#56326259) Homepage

          It's pretty easy to doctor video these days. I rather doubt it happened.

        • by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Monday March 26, 2018 @03:31AM (#56326485)

          Do you see him get in? _no_.

          Do we have any evidence that the rocket was not simply pulled up by a cable? _no_. There is a close-up shot where a cable could easily have been hidden, and a long distance shot that is very clearly made on a computer. Just look at that horizon! Are we supposed to be living at the bottom of a bowl?

          And it's not even very good special effects, but I guess that's what you get for a home-grown production... Just look at that puny steam cloud. Is that supposed to be lifting an entire rocket?

          Let's call it what it is: a fraud.

          • Actually you see him entering the rocket.
            You watch the wrong movies.

            Do we have any evidence that the rocket was not simply pulled up by a cable?
            There can not be evidence for a negative ... however if you see the launch, you see that the sky is clear ... where should the cable be coming from? From a low orbit space craft?

            Let's call it what it is: a fraud.
            Yeah, lets call you what you are: and idiot.

            • Wooooosh.

              Clearly the cable could be tethered to the moon which I think at least one flat earth theory* places at around 4 miles from the surface of the Earth.

              *Not to be confused with the scientific meaning of the word 'theory'

    • Hero? Seriously? Look up the word before applying it to a moron like this guy. "Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame" is the name of a hero. To try an apply the word to hughes simply sullies the real Heros of this world.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by PopeRatzo ( 965947 )

        Hero? Seriously? Look up the word before applying it to a moron like this guy. "Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame" is the name of a hero. To try an apply the word to hughes simply sullies the real Heros of this world.

        Don't be such a drama queen. There can be more than one hero in the world and they can be heroic for many reasons. And if that Lieutenant Colonel Carlos Beltran or whatever his name is was such a hero, whey didn't he just shoot the terrorist through the eye and save everyone? As your favor

    • I wouldn't use the word "hero" or "inspiration", but the dude has some balls. I'll admit I didn't think he'd actually pull the trigger, lever, button, or whatever device he used to launch himself. He did, though, and I'll give him props for that.

      As to everyone who pooh-poohs the height his device achieved, I'd like you to tell me how far off the ground YOUR homemade rocket got you. The point is not about how high he got. Who the hell cares? We all know the earth is flat. The awesome part is that he ac

    • by stooo ( 2202012 ) on Monday March 26, 2018 @03:26AM (#56326475)

      >> This dude is a fucking inspiration.
      You have a strange kind of inspiration when you fuck.

      • >> This dude is a fucking inspiration.
        You have a strange kind of inspiration when you fuck.

        I dunno. Get all hot and wet after lying to people about your intentions, then make a mess and call the paramedics. Seems about right.

  • At least he actually followed through and did what he promised, but wouldn't it have saved everyone a lot of time, effort, and aggravation if he had just visited the Burj Khalifa? There is not enough development around it to hide the horizon, and it would actually have gotten him higher off the ground.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      At least he actually followed through

      Indeed! I was almost certain he was a flake screwing with the press about the flight. He actually took the flight and proved he is a truly dedicated and faithful nutcase. I'll give him a special gift. [thingiverse.com]

    • If he honestly wanted to do this to observe anything he would have just gone skydiving.
    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      What's the fun in that?

    • He could also have just driven to the summit of Pike’s Peak.

    • At least he actually followed through and did what he promised

      Did he? I don't believe it. Where's the proof that he launched? The article contained no pictures or videos. The evidence that he launched is far flimsier than the evidence that the Earth is a sphere so, by his own standards, we should simply refuse to believe that he did this and then, just perhaps, he might actually learn something valuable from this non-event.

      • by slew ( 2918 )

        At least he actually followed through and did what he promised

        Did he? I don't believe it. Where's the proof that he launched? The article contained no pictures or videos. The evidence that he launched is far flimsier than the evidence that the Earth is a sphere so, by his own standards, we should simply refuse to believe that he did this and then, just perhaps, he might actually learn something valuable from this non-event.

        FWIW, Matt Hartman (a well known AP news photographer) was apparently the "designated reputable witness" to the actual event. You can google it in a few places...

        However, for more entertainment value, the production video is on Noize TV [youtube.com]. Of course you might not be predisposed to believe the video, but apparently Matt was there, so there you have it...

        Then again, with all the Fake News floating around in the inter-tubes, a healthy dose of skepticism is usually warranted. Of course many align our skepticism

    • He would probably claim that it has fisheye lenses for windows.
  • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @11:45PM (#56325955)

    His big mistake was burning pine in the firebox. Next time, a longer-burning hardwood like well-seasoned hickory will improve the specific impulse of his Engine For Raising Aeronauts By Fire. I commend him for trying this approach for high aerial flight and not simply giving up after learning that Czar Nicholas had cornered the entire supply of cavorite he had intended to buy on the London commodity exchange.

    I also recommend that should he achieve high altitude, he thoroughly seal his gondola with oakum and gutta-percha, to prevent the escape of too much air.

  • I doubt that 1800 feet is going to give you a good view of the curvature of the earth. I doubt that even 30,000 feet up which is cruising altitude of a jet plane would show it.

    So how best to prove to him that the earth is round? Perhaps the best way available at a low budget is to use a telescope to watch a sailboat coming over the horizon, the top of the mast should appear first before the rest comes into view. Maybe with this proof he will have to admit the earth is round, in addition, to stop further att

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I forget which one it was, but knowledge that the Earth is round goes back to the Ancient Greeks. As I recall, the story goes something along the lines of a guy walked from Greece to Egypt, and along the way he would put sticks in the ground and measure the shadow they cast at specific times of day. Based on their length and direction, you can deduce that the Earth must be round, or at least curved in a convex way.

      You can also apply some simple logic. Why is it objects disappear over the horizon as you get

    • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Monday March 26, 2018 @04:38AM (#56326655) Homepage

      I'm sorry, why should we be bothering to work out how to prove it to him? That's up to him, if he wants to go against the entirety of established science - with all their own proofs and evidence - for the last few thousand years.

      Flat-earth nonsense is literally predating civilisation. Everyone since has known that it's not flat, nobody in their right mind in even the 14th Century was thinking "Oh, the world is entirely flat". The Ancient Greeks knew it - and could prove it.

      It doesn't need any complicated tools, experience, mathematics or intellect to prove it in a matter of seconds. And the more time we waste celebrating and legitimising idiocy like this, the more pathetically sad I am for humanity.

      Want to prove it? Buy a round the world ticket and look out the window. You don't need to see curvature of the Earth (though that's easily done) in order to prove that the world isn't a flat plane. Unless you think somehow that the (round) Sun and Moon both circle us perfectly, spend half the day hiding underneath that flat plane, yet always appear from the East no matter where you are on the planet and for some reason the MIDDLE of the planet is closer / warmer, not East vs West.

      These people are literally the biggest fools I've ever encountered. It would be ironically funny if someone had suggested this in the 1700's or something, but they still would have been laughed at. To think that they BELIEVE this stuff is worse than anything I can imagine. The Flying Spaghetti Monster has more evidence than this tosh.

      Let's please just stop giving them any kind of credence that they are susceptible to "just the right piece of logical thinking, if only we could explain it" but continue laughing at them for their ignorance.

    • That's already been explained by them. Light gets "tired" on long distances and "falls down" to earth, that's why it looks like the ship disappears behind the horizon. And I have to give it to them, if you ignore the rest of physics, it would actually explain the observation.

      That's how most of their "proofs" work. They come up with something that explains the current problem at hand, completely ignoring that it might create a problem with explaining something else (like in this case how other light sources

  • by FeelGood314 ( 2516288 ) on Monday March 26, 2018 @04:16AM (#56326597)
    Steam is what you get when you burn hydrogen containing molecules. Space X flies with CO2 and Steam.
    • That's an example of stating something which has some truth in it but isn't very helpful. Cars are steampowered too then but what's the point then in calling them steam-powered? The point in calling something steam-powered is not to say the steam is doing the work, but to indicate that the energy source is separate from the propellant.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday March 26, 2018 @05:02AM (#56326709)

    He went up 570 meters. Five hundred seventy meters.

    For comparison: A Sopwith Camel, an airplane of the first world war, from a hundred years ago, had a service ceiling of about 5,791 meters. Approximately ten times the altitude this goofball reached. If his goal was to prove flat earth, he sure chose a poor way. ANY plane he could build out of plywood and cloth (like aforementioned Camel, which was not that much more than exactly this) would take him higher.

    And since he obviously is not dumb (another reason why I can't picture him as a flat earther), my conclusion is that he's trolling flat earthers and duping them into giving him money for his stunts.

  • by ebcdic ( 39948 ) on Monday March 26, 2018 @07:04AM (#56326953)

    To believe that this man believes the earth is flat is as absurd as believing that the earth is flat. He pretends to believe it for purposes of self-publicity.

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