Daredevil “Mad Mike” Hughes had been trying to complete his rocket mission for years. In 2017, he raised $8,496 on GoFundMe to build a rocket that would allow him to prove his conspiracy theory that the earth is in fact flat. On Saturday (Feb. 22), he was launched in his largest vessel yet in the Barstow, California desert, hoping he would reach the the required height of 35,000-feet to confirm (or debunk) the earth's curvature. Tragically, malfunctions led to him falling out of the rocket to his death (as reported by TMZ). 

A video shared on Twitter by journalist Justin Chapman shows the fatal mishap. It appears Hughes' parachute disconnected shortly after the rocket’s ascent, leaving him to freefall several hundred feet once the rocket made its downward trajectory. The rocket was steam-powered and had an ad for Hud, a hookup and dating app, emblazoned across its side. This design replaced the words "FLAT EARTH," which had been printed on his previous rockets. 

In a 2018 interview with VICE, "Mad Mike" spoke about the motivation behind his rocket missions. "I don't care if it's Russia, the United States, or China. I'm going to go up there and I'm going to see it for myself," he said. "I'm going to have cameras with me," he said. "Most people are afraid to follow their dreams. People want the security, the insurance, the 401K, and all that stuff and it's all crap, OK. There is no such thing as security. What you've got is right now—you don't have tomorrow; you don't have next week. You have right now. Do the most with what you've got today. But, in the end, just be nice to people."