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First hydrogen gas balloon launch, Paris, 27 August 1783.

First hydrogen gas balloon launch, Paris, 27 August 1783.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 23cm x 32cm


Unmanned balloon ascent from the Champs de Mars in Paris. After hearing of the Montgolfier brothers' succes, Jacques Charles (1746-1823), a French profesor of physics, joined forces with two local craftsmen, Jean and Nicolas Robert, to produce 'The Globe'. 12 feet in diameter, it was made of silk with an inpermeable rubberised coating containing the lifting gas hydrogen. It rose 3000 feet in the air before falling to the ground near Gonese 15 miles (24 km) away, whereupon terrified villagers, believing it to be the devil, set upon it and tore it to shreds. Illustration from 'Histoire des ballons et des aeronautes celebres: 1783-1800' (History of balloons and famous aeronauts), by Gaston Tisandier (1843-1899), published in 1887.

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© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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