A Flat-Earther Builds a Rocket

California limo driver Mike Hughes plans to launch himself into space tomorrow morning using a rocket he built himself. Media outlets from Fox to NPR are covering his story with as much faux credulity as they can muster. Hughes' stated mission is to prove that the Earth is flat, which is no mean ambition, since it would vindicate flat-Earthers everywhere and put to rest the NASA-led conspiracy that the Earth is spherical. “John Glenn and Neil Armstrong are Freemasons,” Hughes told the Washington Post. “Once you understand that, you understand the roots of the deception." Some observers have hinted that Hughes' recent conversion to flat-Eartherism might have something to do with the challenges he has faced in crowd-funding his previous adventures in rocketry. In 2016, for example, he managed to raise only $310 for a manned flight across the Arizona desert—well shy of his $150,000 goal. Hughes denies the charge of opportunism. "I’m a believer in the flat Earth,” he affirms. "I researched it for several months."

Hughes compares himself favourably with billionaire SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who, he says, is part of the round-Earth conspiracy. But his real debt dates back to an even more ingenious and indefatigable pioneer of amateur rocketry: Wile E. Coyote.