Steam-powered Rocket Man Counting Down To Launch

Mad scientist is a phrase that slips off the tongue when talking about rocket man Mike Hughes.

Affectionately known as Mad Mike, he plans to launch into the sky in a steam-powered rocket any time soon.

Hughes, a 61-year-old limo driver in real life, hopes to prove the Earth is flat.

With no thought of any impending catastrophe, Mad Mike has put out extra food for his cats, in case he is delayed.

He is also making last-minute changes to his rocket and trying out his flying suit for size.

His maiden flight is also his first test flight.

Science and science fiction

Asked if he was scared something might go wrong, Mad Mike said: “If you’re not scared to death, you’re an idiot.

“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.”

Mad Mike’s flight plan is to launch from his self-built ramp on a converted motor home chassis, fly to about 1,800 feet at around 500mph. He will then open his parachutes and gently drift to the ground.

“I don’t believe in science,” said Hughes.

“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.”

Scavenged parts

Although NASA has a budget of billions, he spent just $20,000 on his rocket. The parts were scavenged from salvage yards. The aluminium for the rocket body was scrap from metal shops and the engine nozzle is a remodelled aircraft air filter.

The launch involves heating 70 gallons of water to boiling point for propulsion.

The flight will take place over the Californian ghost town of Amboy, which is on the historic Route 66 in the Mojave Desert.

This is not Mad Mike’s first foray into the blue yonder.

In 2014, he flew 1,375 feet in a rocket he had built, but came back to Earth with a bump when one of the parachutes failed. He collapsed and spent three days recovering from the effects of G-force.

One of Mad Mike’s next ventures is a Rockoon – a balloon mounted rocket that will take him to a height of 68 miles.