What just happened? "Mad" Mike Hughes, the flat earther famous for his home-made rocket launches that he hoped would prove our planet was disc-shaped, has died after his latest rocket crashed into the ground.

On February 22, the 64-year-old crash-landed his steam-powered rocket shortly after take-off near Barstow, California. A video posted on Twitter shows the parachute, presumably deployed too early, trailing behind the rocket as it launches.

Freelance journalist Justin Chapman, who witnessed the launch with his wife, said the rocket appeared to rub against the launch apparatus, which might have torn the parachutes attached to it.

The sheriff's office said: "a man was pronounced deceased after the rocket crashed in the open desert." Hughes' publicist confirmed his death.

Hughes' first launch in 2014 reached 1,374 feet. A 2018 attempt saw him hit 1,875 feet---a personal record---but it still wasn't high enough for Hughes to see the earth's shape. With the help of partner Waldo Stakes, he was hoping to reach 5,000 feet during Saturday's launch.

Hughes spent around $18,000 on the rocket, which uses steam ejected through a nozzle for propulsion, and had been relying partly on crowdfunding donations from fellow flat earthers. Speaking after his 2018 launch, he said: "This thing wants to kill you ten different ways. This thing will kill you in a heartbeat."

In 2002, Hughes set a Guinness World Record for the longest limousine jump when he traveled over 103 feet in a Lincoln Town Car stretched limo.