健力士紀錄保持者為證「地平說」 坐自製DIY火箭升空意外墜毀亡

撰文:黃正軒
出版:更新:

儘管已離人類首次進入宇宙將近60年(由蘇聯太空人加加林的1961年紀錄計起),世上依然有不少人士相信地球是平坦已非橢圓球體,認為那些聲稱在太空拍攝的地球照片都是瞞騙世人之陰謀產物。近日有位「地平說」提倡者兼特技人Mike Hughes乘超低成本的自家製DIY火箭再度飛天,以求眼見為憑。發射過程發生意外,Mike Hughes連人帶機高速墜地,不幸喪生。

外號「狂人米克」(Mad Mike)的著名特技飛人Micahel(下稱Mike) Hughes是位地平說信奉者,也是位自學太空人和火箭科學家。他上周六於加州巴斯托(Barstow)乘搭自家製的蒸汽動力火箭升空,嘗試飛至高空親眼證實「地平真相」。當日起飛是配合Discovery科學頻道(Science Channel)的新節目Homemade Astronauts攝製而進行。可惜這次失敗的升空成了Mike Hughes的人生最後一程。

Mike Hughes與他跟朋友Waldo Stakes在自家後園開發同製作的蒸汽動力火箭。(Wikipeda)

Mike Hughes 2014年首次以蒸汽動力火箭升空,當時成功飛昇至418米。根據Discovery資料,Mike Hughes認為地球的真正模樣是呈飛碟狀,跟友人Waldo Stakes訂下目標:把火箭推至高空100公里,突破卡門線(Kármán Line,亦即地球大氣層和外太空的邊界),即可目睹地球真貌,確認自己理論是否屬實。二人合作於2018年創下最高紀錄571米,仍距離真正高空(一般民航客機3萬5千多呎、約10.5公里)甚遠。2019年3月再試一次,只是維持紀錄不變(570米)。

Mike Hughes是勇者,藝高人膽大。2002年他創下駕駛3噸重的豪華轎車飛越31.39米距離的最遠紀錄,名列健力氏世界紀錄大全,也許不會因數次挫折而氣餒。 2020年2月22日巴斯托當地時間下午2時許,Mike Hughes受科學節目Homemade Astronauts邀請合作而再接再厲,挑戰以18,000美元(約港幣14萬元)之低成本開發新蒸汽火箭再度升空。即看加州巴斯托起飛失事經過(點擊放大圖片細睇):

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火箭爬升至約1,500米後掉下,於空曠的沙漠中墜毀。Mike Hughes當場身亡,享年64歲,遺下兩名子女。目前未清楚Mike Hughes火箭降落傘過早脫出事故的真正原因,不過他以地平說支持者多年眾籌得來之緊拙預算製造火箭,安全性成疑,發生致命意外的風險本就不小。事後科學頻道於Twitter發推文向Hughes致意,稱他「為了圓夢而升空」(點擊放大圖片細睇):

身前身後毀譽參半 經理人:宣揚地平說僅為籌募資金

Mike Hughes曾於去年播出的紀錄片Rocketman中登場。事故後該片官方Instagram也發悼文,表示製作組對Mike Hughes的離逝大感悲痛,即使彼此在許多事情看法上不一,但對於人類現況的所見略同。帖文讚賞Mike Hughes心腸柔和,對世界的同情大異於其公眾形象;亦形容他不時感到孤寂失落,自覺身為飛人的成就被世人遺忘。

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在 Instagram 查看这篇帖子

By now I’m sure many of you have heard that Michael J. Hughes - ‘Mad’ Mike - perished yesterday during a rocket launch. Although there were many things we disagreed on, we found commonality in his perspective of the human condition. He had a soft spirit and empathy for the world that contrasted with his public persona. He was often lonely and felt his accomplishments as a daredevil had been forgotten. Ultimately, he just wanted to lead a meaningful life. He had very little money, but he found a way to bring excitement and purpose to his life by doing affordable stunts with rockets that he built himself using spare parts. His flat Earth perspective brought attention and needed funds to his stunts, but it was a double-edged sword that also brought him ridicule. He didn’t really care if the Earth was flat, and was fully ready to concede his error once he could see it with his own eyes in a final stunt that he was working towards – going 62 miles up to the edge of space in a contraption known as a rockoon. The stunt that took his life was never intended to prove anything; it was just another way for Mike to raise awareness and funding. The filmmakers are deeply saddened at the news of Mad Mike. We didn’t know what to expect when we decided to document his unusual life, and were fully prepared to dismiss him and his crazy ideas - but we ended up going on an incredible adventure and we gained new perspectives on how people view the world and our place in it. As Carl Sagan said, “We should confront ignorance with kindness” – something that’s not always easy to do, and sorely lacking in today’s world. Right now, many are laughing at Mad Mike, but as Mike said, “If you can’t laugh at me, then you need to get a better sense of humor!” No one laughed harder at Mad Mike Hughes, than himself. He will be deeply missed. www.RealRocketman.com 🚀 #thisisrocketman 📷 by @tobybrusseau Filmmakers: @tobybrusseau @directorlinn

Rocketman. The Movie. (@thisisrocketman) 分享的帖子 ·

Rocketman官方IG帖文最後提到即使很多人會嘲笑Mike Hughes送命,他本人卻是最有資格自嘲的那位,他也承認自己是可笑的。Mike Hughes並非很在乎地球是否真的平坦,他早有心理準備於特技飛行中親睹事實後坦蕩認錯。

Mike Hughes的前公關代表Darren Shuster對TMZ表示這位飛人獨一無二,形容上帝製造Mike時便「打破模具」,因為他這個人是「來真的」、活在邊緣並毫無選擇。不過Shuster堅持Mike Hughes所謂的地平信仰只是吸引資金和注目的綽頭,儘管他為人古怪和相信一些政府陰謀論,但有關言行都是公關技倆一部份。Shuster又指Mike Hughes目標是成為一位啟發美國人的英雄。

網民自然有人嘲諷有人惋惜,有人覺得Mike Hughes總算為理想而犧牲,求仁得仁,只是代價未免太大。不過竟然也有部份網民把矛頭直指科學頻道,認為根本不用飛上天才能確認地平說是假,科學頻道不科學,鼓勵Mike Hughes為着不用驗證的事而搏命,間接導致了意外發生。

Mike Hughes起飛失事片段:

綜合報導,資料來源:EngadgetNew York TimesBBCDiscovery