He got permission to launch on the land owned by Albert Okura, who bought Amboy in 2005 for $435,000. Okura was in attendance and said the event lasted about three to four minutes. The rocket landed about 1,500 feet from the launch ramp, Stakes said.
“Mike branded us as ‘Rocket Town,’” Okura said. “It was amazing.”
This has been quite an undertaking for Hughes, who lives in Apple Valley, California. He’s seen a flurry of reaction to his plans, with detractors labeling him a crackpot for planning the launch in a homemade contraption and his belief that the world is flat.
Some naysayers have posted things like “He’ll be fine” with a picture of Wile E. Coyote strapped to a rocket.
“I hope he doesn’t blow something up,” retired NASA astronaut Jerry Linenger said as Hughes’ plans captured widespread attention. Linenger orbited the globe more than 2,000 times during four months in 1997. “Rocketry, as our private space companies found out, isn’t as easy as it looks.”
Hughes often sparred with his critics on social media leading up to the launch, through Facebook comments and a 12-minute video addressed to his doubters. He’s always maintained that his mission isn’t to prove the Earth is flat.
“Do I believe the Earth is shaped like a Frisbee? I believe it is,” he said. “Do I know for sure? No. That’s why I want to go up in space.”
That’s his project for down the road. He wants to build a “Rockoon,” a rocket that is carried into the atmosphere by a gas-filled balloon, then separated from the balloon and lit. This rocket would take Hughes about 68 miles up.
He has a documentary crew following him around to record his ambition, with a planned release in August.
This was actually the second time he’s constructed and launched a rocket. He said he jumped on a private property in Winkelman, Arizona, on Jan. 30, 2014, and traveled 1,374 feet. He collapsed after that landing and needed three days to recover.
But there wasn’t any footage of him climbing into the craft, leading some to question whether he even took off.
This one was going to be shown online through Noize TV.
“My story really is incredible,” Hughes 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.”
His future plans are simple: Fill out the paperwork to run for governor.
“This is no joke,” Hughes said. “I want to do it.”