Mike Hughes, a 61-year-old self-taught rocket scientist, believes the Earth is flat. He pushed himself about 570 metres into the air in his homemade vessel before a hard landing in the Mojave Desert that left him slightly bruised. A daredevil inventor who believes the Earth is flat blasted himself around 570 metres (1,875ft) into the air in a rocket before landing with a bump. The limo driver converted a mobile home into a ramp and modified it to launch from a vertical angle. For months he’s been working on overhauling his rocket in his garage.

He was slightly injured when his steam-powered rocket launch ended with a hard landing in the Mojave Desert on Saturday.

“This thing wants to kill you 10 different ways,” said Mr Hughes, who said the crash left him with an aching back.

The daredevil blasted off shortly after 3pm local time with no countdown or fanfare. Mr Hughes reached an estimated 350 mph before activating his parachute. He was forced to deploy a second chute as his rocket, emblazoned with the words “research flat earth”, was falling too fast. The daredevil landed bluntly with the rocket’s nose breaking in two places – as it was designed to do. “Am I glad I did it? Yeah. I guess,” he said.

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.

The launch in the desert town — about 200 miles east of Los Angeles — was originally scheduled in November. It was scrubbed several times due to logistical issues with the Bureau of Land Management and mechanical problems that kept popping up.