Experiments

Rocket Chair

posted: 04/11/12
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As seen in "MythBusters: Ming Dynasty Astronaut"
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Finding: BUSTED

Explanation: Although NASA's race to the moon blasted off in 1957, the Chinese allegedly sent an astrologer into space centuries before. As the legend goes, Ming Dynasty astrologer Wan Hu attempted to fly to the moon in the 1500s. Strapped into a chair powered by 47 gunpowder rockets, Wan Hu supposedly sailed into the atmosphere and was never seen again.

MythBusters Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage reenacted the Chinese lunar launch to see whether the gunpowder rockets could really send someone into orbit.

The team cooked up a batch of gunpowder and packed it into 47 traditional Chinese rockets. Jamie and Adam also added thrust-boosting nozzles to the rockets, since the explosives need around 50 pounds (22.7 kilograms) of thrust to get off the ground.

Even with the nozzles, the Chinese rockets acted more like roman candles, only reaching 5 pounds (2.3 kilograms) of thrust. Nevertheless, the team strapped test dummy Buster into the hot seat and ignited their 47 homemade rockets.

As suspected, the busted myth went down in a cloud of smoke, burning Buster to a crisp before the chair could barely get airborne. The Chinese achieved a lot of firsts, but the MythBusters' failed rocket launch proved that a moon landing wasn't one of them.

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