Robertson's Minerve balloon, 1804

Robertson's Minerve balloon, 1804

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Credit: SHEILA TERRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Robertson's Minerve balloon. Historical artwork of La Minerve, an extravagant balloon design proposed in 1804 by the French engineer E. G. Robertson. This massive balloon would have weighed 80 tonnes, and was intended to carry up to 60 scientists across the oceans on great voyages of discovery. The design included sleeping areas, a library, a church, laboratories, a separate ladies quarter (lower left), a huge storage barrel (bottom), a cannon, and several smaller balloons for scouting trips. The main vessel could be converted to a ship for a water landing. The design was never built. Artwork from Astra Castra (Hatton Turner, London, 1865).

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