The first balloon ascent with animals, 19 September 1783.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
French brothers Joseph Michel (1740-1810) and Jacques-Etienne (1745-1799) Montgolfier were amongst the first to succesfully exploit the idea of the hot-air balloon. This ascent on 19 September 1783 took place outside the Palace of Versailles in front of the King and Queen of France and more than 130,000 spectators. The balloon, named 'Le Martial', was set adrift carrying a sheep, a cock and a duck, to investigate the effects of flying on living creatures. It remained airborne for eight minutes before descending near the Forest of Vaucreson one and a half miles (2.4 km) away. The animals, which were caged in a basket suspended from the balloon, landed safely. Dimensions: 244mm x 378mm.