As the countdown to launch creeps closer there is still plenty for self-taught rocket scientist “Mad” Mike Hughes to do: last-second modifications to his vessel, pick up his flight suit, leave enough food for his four cats — just in case anything happens.
- Mike Hughes travelled nearly 420m in his first homemade rocket
- He expects to reach an altitude of 550m at Saturday’s launch
- He hopes to travel to space one day so he can see for himself that Earth is flat
Mr Hughes is a 61-year-old limousine driver who has spent the past few years building a steam-powered rocket out of salvage parts in his garage in the United States.
His project has cost him $US20,000 ($26,200), which includes paint to fancy it up and a motor home he bought on Craigslist that he converted into a ramp.
His first test of the rocket will also be the launch date — Saturday, November 25, when he straps into his homemade contraption and attempts to hurtle over the ghost town of Amboy, California.
He expects to travel about 1.5 kilometres at a speed of roughly 800kph.
“If you’re not scared to death, you’re an idiot,” Mr Hughes said.
“It’s scary as hell, but none of us are getting out of this world alive. I like to do extraordinary things that no-one else can do, and no-one in the history of mankind has designed, built and launched himself in his own rocket.
“I’m a walking reality show.”
Mr Hughes has been called eccentric, quirky and foolhardy during his career to date. But it does not bother him.
He believes the Earth is flat, but he knows this is a conundrum, given he is about to launch himself into the atmosphere.
At a later stage he is intending to build a rocket that takes him to space, so he can snap a picture and see with his own eyes.
“I don’t believe in science,” said Mr 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,” he said.
“But that’s not science, that’s just a formula. There’s no difference between science and science fiction.”
This will actually be the second time he has constructed and launched a rocket.
In 2014 he travelled nearly 420m and collapsed after that landing — the G-forces taking a toll — and needed three days to recover.
How the launch will unfold
The location of the launch is Amboy, a ghost town in the Mojave Desert and along historic Route 66.
On the morning of the launch, Mr Hughes will heat about 265L of water in a stainless steel tank and then blast off between 2pm and 3pm (local time).
Mr Hughes plans to travel about 1.5km — reaching an altitude of about 550m — before opening two parachutes.
He is discouraging fan attendance due to safety issues, but the launch will be televised on his YouTube channel.
He said he had been in contact with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Bureau of Land Management.