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The Right Stuff

The Tex-Mex border.

Today I was tracking migrants on Tex-Mex border. Came across these two fellows, 18 and 23 years-old from Missouri.

Cooper Hime, 18, has a head full of knowledge on rocketry and spaceflight and an interesting background of blasting his own home by accident with a large homemade rocket that exploded on the launch pad when he was 16. At about the same time, Cooper drove the 1,000 miles alone to SpaceX in Texas to start watching the launches. Cooper is almost ready to test for his private pilot license and already has made a solo flight.

Biggest rocket in history.

The first Mars test of Starship on a Superheavy could be next month if FAA will approve. Biggest rocket in history. Dwarfs Apollo. It sits on the launch pad. We were there just hours ago.

Cooper’s friend, Nic Ansuini, 23, also from Missouri, has a similar story. Nic also drove the thousand miles from Missouri but first met Cooper while both were making daily photos and videos of SpaceX.

Nic spent months camping and living around SpaceX shooting excellent work.

I saw many of their shots and videos

In the photograph I made hours ago, Nic is the tall one on the right, in front of the Starship. Nic lost about 100 pounds sleeping on the beach near the launch pad. In fact, Nic slept almost where I was standing take this photo.

One reason Nic lost so much weight was a lack of money. He also had to drive 20 miles one-way to the nearest public restroom in Brownsville. And so, Nic decided that if he did not eat, he didn’t need to drive 40 miles to the toilet.

Cooper already built and launched a 9-foot rocket when he was 16. I saw the evidence in the form of the physical rocket and the video. Nic and Cooper said they have a nearby apartment in Brownsville. I asked to see the rocket and they took me there — and their apartment is like a little museum of spaceflight and cameras they use to film SpaceX.

These are serious men.

They know what they want: Go to Mars. They have not yet figured out how to get what they want. They are working on the problem.

There is hope. A lot of young people still have the Right Stuff. I enjoyed every minute of the hours we spoke. These men are headed off this planet. I told them to write and send me photos!

They are struggling to pay the bills.

I told them to set up a Locals account. Their work is excellent. Good people who share their vision will support them. That’s how I do it.

Michael Yon

Michael Yon is America's most experienced combat correspondent. He has traveled or worked in 82 countries, including various wars and conflicts.

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