March 25 (UPI) -- A California man successfully launched a homemade steam-powered rocket Sunday as part of an ongoing effort to prove the earth is flat.
"Mad" Mike Hughes, a 61-year-old limo driver, launched a steam-powered rocket with the words "research flat earth" 1,875 feet into the air above the Mojave desert achieving an estimated speed of 350 mph before activating his parachute.
Hughes was forced to deploy a second parachute as the rocket began falling too quickly. The rocket's nose broke in two places and Hughes landed on the ground with a bump, which left him with a sore back.
"Am I glad I did it? Yeah. I guess," he said. "I'll feel it in the morning. I won't be able to get out of bed. At least I can go home and have dinner and see my cats tonight."
Hughes has spent $20,000 since 2016 in his pursuit of launching the homemade rocket. A planned launch in 2017 was scrapped as the converted motorhome he used to launch the rocket broke down and he couldn't obtain a permit.
Despite stating the rocket "wants to kill you 10 different ways" Hughes said he was relieved to have completed the launch.
"I'm tired of people saying I chickened out and didn't build a rocket. I'm tired of that stuff. I manned up and did it," he said.
Hughes has expressed a belief that the earth is "like a Frisbee -- or flat" and ultimately hopes to raise enough funds to build a "Rockoon" rocket carried into the atmosphere by a gas-filled balloon, to travel about 68 miles upward and photograph the Earth. Sunday's launch was a little more a third of a mile.
"My story really is incredible," he said. "It's got a bunch of story lines -- the garage-built thing. I'm an older guy. It's out in the middle of nowhere, plus the Flat Earth. The problem is it brings out all the nuts also, people questioning everything. It's the downside of all this."