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1. Trying To Take A Hot Air Balloon Into Space
If scientist James Glaisher had had his way, the first manned spaceflight would have taken place 100 years before Yuri Gagarin’s. That’s because 1862 was the year that Glaisher and Henry Coxwell set off in their hot air balloon for the “aerial ocean” above. Their government-funded flight took off from Wolverhampton on September 5. Almost immediately, things went horribly wrong.Approximately 8 kilometers (5 mi) above the Earth, the temperatures dropped to -20 degrees Celsius (-4 °F) and the animals that Glaisher had brought to observe died. About 1.6 kilometers (1 mi) above that, both men suddenly got the bends and collapsed.At 11 kilometers (7 mi) up, both men blacked out but not before Coxwell pulled the valve release cord with his teeth. To Glaisher’s dismay, the balloon descended, taking them away from the edges of the atmosphere.Somehow, this near-death experience didn’t put Glaisher off. He made 21 more flights but never realized his dream of ballooning into space.
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