No, it’s not the premise of a B-rate horror film from the 50s. It’s real.
A self-taught rocket scientist slash limo driver from California has spent the last few years building a steam-powered vehicle out of salvaged parts from his garage and will stream his first test flight live on YouTube on Saturday.
“If you’re not scared to death, you’re an idiot,” says 61 year old “Mad” Mike Hughes, the man who will attempt to roar through the sky over the ghost town of Amboy, California this weekend.
Hughes, who earns US$15 an hour plus tips as a limo driver, struggled for months to raise the funds for his intrepid enterprise.
He originally tried to finance his rocket last year through a Kickstarter campaign titled “From Garage to Outer Space!” which only raised $310 of its $150,000 goal.
“We want to do this and basically thumb our noses at all these billionaires trying to do this,” said the entrepreneur from his living room in Apple Valley, California.
“There are 20 different space agencies here in America, and I’m the last person that’s put a man in a rocket and launched it.”
That asseveration, although quite imprecise, actually has some truth in it. Hughes has been building rockets for years now and in 2014 he managed to fly more than 300 metres over Winkelman, Arizona.
There’s even a YouTube video of the test, during which Hughes is seen being dragged from the remains of the rocket moaning and whimpering. His injuries put him in a walker for two weeks.
That 2014 test flight was only a quarter of the distance of Saturday’s mile-long attempt. Yikes!
“I don’t believe in science,” says Hughes, who turned to the Research Flat Earth organization for funding after his failed Kickstarter.
“I know about aerodynamics and fluid dynamics and how things move through the air, about the certain size of rocket nozzles, and thrust,” he says.
“But that’s not science, that’s just a formula. There’s no difference between science and science fiction.”
The flat-Earth community announced this year he was a new member of their flock and promised to sponsor his endeavour with the ultimate goal of developing a rocket capable of launching Hughes high enough to take a photograph of the Earth and prove once and for all we live on gigantic, flat disc.
Following his first flat-Earth sponsored test this Saturday, Hughes said he’s going to announce his plans to jump into the race for Governor of California.
No seriously, I don’t have the imagination to make this all up.
Liftoff is scheduled between 2PM and 3PM this Saturday, and it will be streamed live on his Youtube channel for a fee.
The recent flat-Earth convert will attempt to blast about a mile into the sky by heating 70 gallons of water in a stainless steel tank.
“It’s scary as hell, but none of us are getting out of this world alive,” he says.
“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.”