Flat-Earther Mike Hughes Prepares to Launch Himself 5,000 Feet Into the Air in Another Homemade Rocket

A self-taught "rocket scientist" is preparing to launch himself 5,000 feet into the air in a homemade, steam-powered rocket this Sunday.

California resident Mike Hughes, 63, made international headlines last year when he reached an altitude of nearly 2,000 feet in another homemade rocket before guiding the vehicle down to a successful—albeit somewhat bumpy—landing.

For his latest daredevil act, Hughes told Newsweek he wants to better his previous achievement. He was speaking ahead of the launch—which is set to take place near the town of Amboy in California's Mojave Desert.

"It's always a lot of anxiety because there's so much work to get done and there is no team here. It is a massive project," Hughes said, describing his feelings ahead of the big day.

Hughes' rocket measures just over 20 feet in length and is powered by "superheated water." It will launch itself off a 34-foot long, almost vertical ramp.

"It will have about 95 to 100 gallons of water in it at this time, superheated," Hughes said. "[This] will leave the rocket at the speed of sound [creating] a 50-foot shockwave behind. A controlled explosion is basically what it is. Water is so powerful it's incredible."

"We're gonna shoot this thing off, it looks like about an 80-degree launch angle. But with me in it, and the weight of the rocket and the water [it] will be around 1,800 pounds at launch time," he said. "This thing has to overcome around 1,800 pounds before it even moves. It will leave the ramp in less than half a second and will hopefully get up to almost a mile in altitude."

Once the rocket has reached this height, Hughes—who drives limos for a living—will deploy the vehicle's parachutes, if all goes to plan, and guide himself back down to Earth.

"I'm the captain. I stay with [the rocket,] I'm going down with it," he said.

Hughes—a believer in the idea of a flat Earth—certainly has his critics, who have poured scorn on his views or what they see as his reckless attempts to launch himself into the air in such a contraption. However, he maintains that he isn't trying to prove the Earth is flat with this launch.

"I want you to understand, when I do these interviews, I say a lot of goofy things because that's what people expect me to say," he said. But I never said ever that I was trying to prove the flat Earth with this rocket. It's to raise awareness, to inspire people, to dream—which is what we used to do in this country. That's what I want to do. I want to inspire the next man or woman or boy or girl who changes the world, because it needs it."

"I just want people to question their reality, their government, their city council, their congressman. Just try to make the world a better place for the people behind you," he said. "Be responsible for what you do. Don't throw trash on the highway, take care of animals, if you see someone in need you help them. That's what I want people to concentrate on instead of just grabbing everything you possibly can for yourself, which is how we're taught in this country."

Hughes says that Sunday's launch will form part of the preparations, and help to raise funds for, the lift-off of the so-called "Rockoon," which he is currently developing with his friend Waldo Stakes. Part rocket, part balloon, the vehicle is being designed to take Hughes to the Kármán Line—the border between Earth's atmosphere and outer space at an altitude of around 62 miles high.

"This will all lead up to maybe the greatest, most-watched event in mankind's history, which we'll hope we'll have within a year," Hughes said. "I just want people to try and do extraordinary things with their lives. Most people just settle—for a job or relationship, or where we live. Here's the strange thing though: when you start going outside the box and questioning things, then people—because we're taught this—start ridiculing you."

The launch is being filmed by Science Channel for a new series, Homemade Astronauts, that will air in 2020.

Mad Mike Hughes, rocket
The rocket launch site near Amboy, California. Discovery Channel