AMBOY, Calif. --
The countdown to launch creeps closer and there's 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.
Hughes is a 61-year-old limo driver who's spent the last few years building a steam-powered rocket out of salvage parts in his garage.
His project has cost him $20,000, which includes Rust-Oleum paint to fancy it up and a motor home he bought on Craig's List that he converted into a ramp:
His first test of the rocket will also be the launch date - Saturday - when he straps into his homemade contraption and attempts to hurtle over the ghost town of Amboy, California.
He will travel about a mile at a speed of roughly 500 mph.
"If you're not scared to death, you're an idiot," 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."
The daredevil/limo driver has been called a little bit of everything over his career - eccentric, quirky, foolhardy. Doesn't bother him. He believes what he believes, including that the Earth is flat.
He knows this thought is a conundrum, given that he's about to launch himself into the atmosphere. Down the road, he's 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 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. But that's not science, that's just a formula.
"There's no difference between science and science fiction..."