A man who believes Earth is flat, and was ready to launch himself from a rocket in California on Saturday afternoon to prove it, has canceled his plans. At least for now.
Not having the required federal permits plus mechanical problems with his "motorhome/rocket launcher" forced self-taught rocket scientist "Mad" Mike Hughes to put his experiment on hold.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) "told me they would not allow me to do the event ... at least not at that location," Hughes said in a YouTube announcement, amid international attention over his plans to launch into the 'atmosflat.'
"It's been very disappointing," he said.
Hughes is a 61-year-old limo driver who has spent the last few years building a steam-powered rocket out of salvage parts in his garage. His project has cost him $20,000, which includes Rust-Oleum paint to fancy it up and a motor home he bought on Craigslist that he converted into a ramp.
Hughes was set to launch his rocket between 2 and 3 p.m.on Saturday.
Plans had been in the works for more than a year and Hughes said he was initially told by BLM "that it was up to the (Federal Aviation Administration)" to approve the launch. The FAA, Hughes said, told him "We can't honestly approve it, we just know that you are going to do it there."
News of his plans began to spread Monday and gained worldwide attention, which Hughes believes is why BLM began to push for permits.
"My feeling is that one of the top executives at the Bureau of Land Management called Needles, California, saying ... 'What's going on? Who permitted this?'" Hughes said.
Plus, as he and his team were preparing to leave Wednesday, the motorhome/rocket launcher broke down in his driveway, he said.
"We want everyone to please stay tuned," Hughes said, adding he has set up a YouTube page where he will post updates. His plan is to try again next week.
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