Steam Powered Rocket Flight Stymied By Bureaucrats And Mechanical Glitches

“Mad” Mike Hughes suffered a few setbacks in his plan to fly across Amboy, California in a steam powered rocket on November 25 when bureaucrats from the Federal Aeronautics Administration and the Bureau of Land Management raised last minute objections. To make matters worse, the second hand RV Hughes bought on Craigslist for $1,500 to transport himself and his rocket to the launch site suffered a mechanical breakdown en route.

steam rocket Mike Hughes

Hughes tells USA Today that officials from BLM told him that it was up to the FAA to approve the flight. The FAA told him, “We can’t honestly approve it. We just know that you are going to do it there.”

Hughes says that after the story of his rocketeering escapade broke on the internet last week (including here at Gas2) he thinks some agency types got cold feet. “My feeling is that one of the top executives at the Bureau of Land Management called (the FAA in) Needles, California, saying … ‘What’s going on? Who permitted this?'” he says.

Three days before the scheduled launch of Hughes’ steam powered rocket, the converted RV that serves as his transporter and launch vehicle broke down in his driveway, stranding him and his ace team of rocket researchers until repairs could be made. “We want everyone to please stay tuned,” Hughes said. Updates about the next step in his quest to hurl himself a mile down range from his launch site will be posted on his YouTube channel. He says his plan is to try again next week.

Will his homemade rocket actually fly 500 miles per hour at an elevation of 1500 feet of more using nothing but steam created by boiling 70 gallons of water? That remains to be seen. But his mission may have more to do with getting approval from grim faced government minions than the laws of thermodynamics.

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.