Life Copies Art – Astronaut Farmer
Charles Farmer was a former USAF fighter jock in the early 1960s. And he had the Right Stuff, so much so that NASA selected him for training in the space program. He was on his way to space until the family farm was faced with foreclosure, and his father took his own life rather than face losing the farm. So, Charles Farmer put aside his dreams, resigned from NASA and the military, went home, and spent the better part of his life keeping the farm going.
In addition to farming, he kept busy over the years by building a fully functional Mercury-Atlas rocket in the barn to one day launch himself into space.
But it never really happened, as the above is the plot of a quirky 2006 family movie starring Billy Bob Thornton, Virginia Madsen, and Bruce Dern among others. It's titled Astronaut Farmer.
It never really happened, though. That is, until now. Maybe.
A 61-year-old named "Mad" Mike Hughes of Apple Valley, Ca., has built a steam-powered rocket he plans to launch Saturday, that will also be the first live test of all systems.
To be sure, the movie astronaut played by Billy Bob had a pretty good understanding of rocket science. He had real rocket system built of salvage parts, and a ground control apparatus as part of his attempt at the stars (in the movie, he actually made it to low earth orbit).
But Mad Mike considers science to be fantasy, and his rocket is made from odds and ends from Craigslist, with a few cans of spray paint to dress it up.
Hughes actually said, "I don't believe in science...there's no difference between science and science fiction."
While this rocket is supposed to fly only about a 1/4 mile near Amboy, a ghost town in the Mojave Desert, Mad Mike, a former $15 an hour limo driver, is already planning a rocket to actually take him into space.
While he's planning on launching at a ghost town, he'll hopefully remain amongst us living and breathing earth creatures.
Is that a crash helmet? Oh, I hope not. (Bill Dana on the Ed Sullivan Show c.1961)
The whole stunt is supposed to be broadcast on his Youtube channel. Here are all the crazy details.