Falcon Heavy Starman Round Earth
A view from SpaceX's Falcon Heavy high above Earth on its way to Mars. The vehicle is Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster and the puppet behind the wheel is "Starman." This view is the latest to disprove the flat-Earth theory. SpaceX

When SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy took off successfully on its maiden flight Tuesday evening, it was a historic moment for many reasons. It was the first privately built, commercial rocket that was headed to Mars; it was carrying an actual car into space, another first; it became the world’s most powerful rocket currently in operation, and it was the first time that two of a rocket’s three engine cores made a synchronized landing back on Earth.

That list would have a few more additions, but there was one more thing the launch did, even though it wasn’t nearly as historic. Multiple photographs and video from the spacecraft (shared by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk) far above Earth clearly showed the curvature of the planet’s surface, a fact known even to ancient Greeks as long back as 500 years before the arrival of Christ, and yet, somehow still denied by people today who insist Earth is actually a flat disc.

Flat-Earthers is the name given to people who believe in the fiction that the planet we live on is flat. Since the time of ancient Greeks, science has come a long way and we now know that all planets, be they terrestrial, icy or gaseous — in fact, all large bodies in space including stars and many moons — are rounded in shape due to fundamental physics. But that doesn’t stop flat-Earthers from trying to prove their flawed conspiracy theory.

There is “Mad” Mike Hughes from California, a 61-year-old limo driver, daredevil and self-avowed disbeliever in science who built a steam-powered rocket, mostly using salvage parts from his garage. His plan was to launch himself in the rocket to a height of 1,800 feet above the surface, a stunt he hoped would raise enough money for an even bigger project, during which he would fly high enough to take pictures of Earth to conclusively prove the planet is, in fact, flat.

But it is his plans that have fallen flat instead, since he has been unable to perform his experiment multiple times since he first conceived it. The latest attempt, made Saturday in the Mojave desert, ended in another failure when his rocket failed to even ignite, let alone take off. The man didn’t given up on his ambition, however, and said he would take the rocket apart to figure out why it didn’t fly.

Previously, rapper B.o.B launched a campaign to prove the same infantile idea of Earth being flat, for which he wanted to raise $1 million using GoFundMe. In over 4 months that the fundraising page has been around, it has received less than $7,000, of which he gave the first $1,000 himself.

Even before starting the fundraising campaign, B.o.B often shared posts on Twitter that promoted the flat-Earth theory, clearly without actually understanding the science involved.

There is also the Flat Earth Society, which actively promotes the unfounded notion of our planet being flat and also supported B.o.B in his attempts that have borne no fruit so far (and never will). A recent discussion on the website’s forum, which was likely over one of the Flacon Heavy photographs (the topic was “MOVED: Earth, from a car), was itself moved by the moderator to a category called “Complete Nonsense.”

With an approach like that, where someone holds a view of the world based entirely on belief, even when that belief is indubitably proven to be wrong by facts, it may never be possible to convince some people of the shape of the planet they live on.

The Earth was circumnavigated in 1521, and by that time, the idea of Earth being round was already popular in many places (even though the flat Earth theory was popular in some places, like China, till the 17th century). At a time when there was no vantage point distant enough to see the shape clearly from, a misinformed belief could still have made an iota of sense. But in this day and age, 50 years after man walked on the moon, it holds no water.