Man doesn’t launch rocket again

POSTED: February 5, 2018

On November 18 last year, a limousine driver in California didn’t take off in his home made rocket; allegedly because someone didn’t issue him with the right permit. At the time Sky News reported that

Mike Hughes, who calls himself Mad Mike Hughes and says he doesn’t believe in science, has spent years building his own steam-powered rocket in his garage.

The 61-year-old saved money from his $15-an-hour driving job and has spent $20,000 (£15,000) on the project, including the purchase of a $1,500 motorhome bought on Craigslist which he will attach the launch pad to.

Mr Hughes says he is the only man in history to design, build, and launch himself in a rocket, which he has made using mainly scrap parts.

He allegedly planned to fly up high enough to disprove the “ball earth” theory by briefly glancing down from near-space at “an altitude of about 1,800ft” at the magnificent flatness of the earth below before pulling two parachutes and plummeting back again.

On February 3 he tried again. This time he planned to use a redesigned rocket that, according to The Washington Post will “fly straight up, for a third of a mile, to complete phase 1 of his mission and win back the public’s faith”.

For the second time he gathered a lot of publicity. I googled in the afternoon to see if he had taken off and and got more than 710,000 results. I noticed that Noize TV planned to stream it live as an internet pay-per-view.

Yesterday it occurred to me to wonder what had happened, and so I googled again. Nowhere in the first three pages of results did I find any reporting of his success or failure. I found this very odd. It seems as though a lot of people happily gave him advanced publicity, but hardly anyone wanted to follow up and actually report what happened – or, in this case, didn’t happen.

Eventually I found a forum on Slashdot which claimed that he had got into the rocket but failed to press the button, and eventually got out.

This led me to a Noize TV Facebook page which had some entertaining comments, such as

Suripat Patsuri: When is the next Cancellation Launch Date scheduled?

And the inevitable

Andre Luisterburg: Fuckers i paid to see him dying. Why isnt he dead yet?

Apparently he will try again in two weeks. People who believe in a flat earth probably believe he will take off in two weeks time. People who don’t probably don’t.

Update 1

Shortly after I posted this I found an article in The Register, from where I borrowed the image, which did report on the complete lack of altitude that he achieved. He explained this by saying that “an actuator was malfunctioning, preventing the thing from lifting off. It may have been possible to get someone underneath the rocket to fix the cockup, he said, but that would be too dangerous”.

Update 2

Mad Mike Hughes died, still attempting to launch his steam-powered rocket, on February 22, 2020. I have posted more about this here.