IT FEELS LIKE light years since we initially blasted off to Central Washington to explore Kurt Hughes’ homemade lunar lander, which he ingeniously (space-)crafted on the otherworldly shores of the Columbia River. In reality, it was only 2017 but, given reality these days, it still logs as a long time ago, and a galaxy kinda far away.

At the time, Hughes’ Apollo-inspired tiny house already was massively impressive, but it also was a project in progress.

(Quick Tang-like refresher: Hughes is a naval architect, so this one-of-a-kind homage to his school days near Beverly, Washington — and the history of the space program — stands as a modernly nostalgic “proof of concept for building a house like a modern boat is built.”)

Even before our first encounter with Hughes, he was tracking his DIY adventures on his blog (lunarlanderdwelling.tumblr.com), but it’s infinitely more exciting to receive updates from the commander himself, who since has become quite the supernova of our spinning media solar system:

  • After our story appeared, a December 2017 email from Hughes reported, “A YouTube channel with 600,000 subscribers is coming out from New Zealand to do a movie on it.” (Since then, so have Architectural Digest and “Good Day Sacramento,” at the very least.)
  • In February 2018, he wrote, “I learned that many other newspapers picked up and published your article on the spaceship. Cool.” (It is!) More recently, Business Insider, Dwell and The Oregonian, among a starship fleet of other publications, published their own versions.
  • In July 2018, Hughes sent a terrifying photo of his riverfront moonscape on fire. “Kurt here. With the spaceship,” he wrote (as if maybe we’d forgotten). “Had some excitement with a wildfire. No damage to spaceship. All the sagebrush is gone.” (This sturdy and durable structure stands up to all sorts of invasions. “Since it is built like a modern boat, with plywood on both faces of a structural insulation foam, all coated with epoxy, it won’t ever need to be repaired or painted,” he says.)
  • And most recently, in October, after we alerted Hughes that his stellar project had landed in our Fall Home Design issue of memorable NW Living highlights, he shared a status update nearly as exhilarating (and as eloquent) as Neil Armstrong’s: “It is actually finished now.”

That’s one giant step for lunar-lander-kind.

“Since the first Seattle Times article, I have added a porch, put wire courses in the railings, added a kitchen vent fan, added a weather center and gotten my occupancy permit,” reports Hughes. “I got a planetarium that moves the stars across the sky. When I operate it from beside the bed, the dome appears to be the front window of a spaceship speeding through space. Wow.”

Another wow-worthy surprise, he says, is the lander’s out-of-this-world energy-efficiency. “With the ductless heat pump running all the time, in both 100-degree days or 10-degree days, the electric bill is never more than $25 a month.”

Advertising

For our 2017 story, before his masterful mission was fully accomplished, Hughes told us: “At some point, I’ll be done enough. When I’m 85 and sitting in that captain’s window and sipping absinthe.”

He’s not 85 yet. But he is done enough, and enough is beyond awesome.

“Watching the river out of Captain Nemo’s window is wonderful,” he says. “It’s become a magical place that I go to whenever I can.”