Daredevil 'Mad' Mike Hughes Dies in Steam Rocket Crash Trying to Prove The Earth is Flat

Daredevil "Mad" Mike Hughes was killed in a rocket crash while trying to prove his Flat Earth theory.

The 64-year-old died after his homemade steam-powered rocket crash landed moments after takeoff near Barstow, California on Saturday, according to TMZ.

A video posted on Twitter by journalist Justin Chapman showed the rocket being launched. Seconds later, a parachute is seen deploying too early and the rocket plummets to the ground.

"Mad Mike Hughes just launched himself in a self-made steam-powered rocket and crash landed. Very likely did not survive," Chapman wrote alongside the clip.

Get your unlimited Newsweek trial >

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said its officers were called to a rocket launch event at around 2 p.m. on Saturday. According to KTLA, the sheriff's office said "a man was pronounced deceased after the rocket crashed in the open desert."

The sheriff's department did not identify the victim, but Hughes' partner Waldo Stakes, who was at the rocket launch, confirmed to the Associated Press that Hughes was killed. The sheriff's department has been contacted for additional comment.

Get your unlimited Newsweek trial >

In a tweet, the Science Channel confirmed that Hughes had died chasing his dream. "Michael 'Mad Mike' Hughes tragically passed away today during an attempt to launch his homemade rocket," the tweet said.

"Our thoughts & prayers go out to his family & friends during this difficult time. It was always his dream to do this launch & Science Channel was there to chronicle his journey."

Hughes' representative Darren Shuster described him as "one-of-a-kind." He told TMZ: "When God made Mike, he broke the mold. The man was the real deal and lived to push the edge. He wouldn't have gone out any other way!"

According to space.com, the launch attempt was filmed as part of a new TV series for the Science Channel called Homemade Astronauts following "self-financed, self-made teams on their quest to reach the sky."

Hughes was trying to reach an altitude of 5,000ft in his steam-powered rocket with the help of Stakes. For the show, he and two other teams were working to get as close to the Karman line—the point 62 miles above the Earth's surface that is considered the beginning of space—as possible.

Hughes had previously spoken of his desire to prove his theory that the Earth is "shaped like a Frisbee" by taking photographs of the planet from space. He reached an altitude of around 1,875ft in March 2018 before deploying his parachute.

"The Flat Earth thing is like everything else to me," he told CBS News months after that mission, saying he had built the rocket by "trial and error."

"I just want people to question everything. Question what your congressman is doing, your city council. Question what really happened during the Civil War. What happened during 9/11."

But he added: "You don't get a lot of second chances, though, in the rocket business."

California desert stock
Stock photo shows the desert near Barstow, California. Daredevil Mike Hughes was killed after his homemade rocket crash landed in the desert near Barstow, California. Michael Hurcomb/Corbis via Getty Images
Daredevil 'Mad' Mike Hughes Dies in Steam Rocket Crash Trying to Prove The Earth is Flat | U.S.