A steam-powered rocket, a ghost town, and one very mad ‘astronaut’

A steam-powered rocket, a ghost town, and one very mad ‘astronaut’

Sure, Kim Jong-un may have flown his missiles over Japan, but he never flew one over a ghost town … and he never took a ride himself. So obviously the North Korean effort is several steps behind that of “Mad” Mike Hughes.

Hughes is a 61-year-old limo driver who’s spent the last few years building a steam-powered rocket out of salvage parts in his garage. His project has cost him $20,000, which includes Rust-Oleum paint to fancy it up and a motor home he bought on Craigslist that he converted into a ramp.

This Saturday, Hughes plans to launch his rocket over the deserted town of Amboy, California—with himself strapped inside. If all goes as planned, the rocket will travel about one mile, and reach a speed of 500 miles per hour … which suggests a fearsome G-force. At the end of that mile, Hughes will be about 1,800 feet in the air and, again, if all goes well, a pair of parachutes will bring him back to the ground.

And it’s bound to go well, because Hughes has planned this very carefully.

“I don’t believe in science,” said Hughes, whose main sponsor for the rocket is Research Flat Earth. “I know about aerodynamics and fluid dynamics and how things move through the air, about the certain size of rocket nozzles, and thrust. But that’s not science, that’s just a formula. There’s no difference between science and science fiction.”

While this may be the first launch of this particular rocket, it’s not Hughes’ first flight. He launched himself in a smaller rocket in 2014 and hey, he survived that one. Though he arrived at the other end battered by G-forces so badly it took him three days to recover. 

If you want to watch, it’ll be on Youtube. Godspeed, Mad Mike.

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