On February 22, 2020, Mike Hughes, at the age of 64, died near Barstow, California, following the crash-landing of a rocket he was piloting, built by Hughes and his collaborator Waldo Stakes. During launch, the rocket’s parachute, which was designed for landing, appeared to deploy early and detach from the craft. The launch event was being filmed for the Science Channel television series Homemade Astronauts, in which Hughes was to star.
Following Hughes’ death, a public relations representative stated: “We used flat Earth as a PR stunt… Flat Earth allowed us to get so much publicity that we kept going! I know he didn’t believe in flat Earth and it was a schtick.”