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Space journey
A precursor in the 17th century

The space voyage represents one of the major topics of the science-fiction, and perhaps the oldest treaty by this literary kind. One can indeed go up in Cyrano of Bergerac, in 1650, and with his Voyage in the Moon (the Other World or States and Empires of the Moon) to find a description of interplanetary means of transport.

With two recoveries, the narrator of this philosophical novel tries to gain the Moon, in order to go to note that it acts of a world comparable with the Earth. In his first attempt, the narrator uses "quantity of flasks full with dew", attracted by the sun under the terms of an unknown physical principle.

Unfortunately, at the end of a dozen hours, the hero who, while rising above the clouds, moves away from the Moon, decides to go down again on the firm ground while breaking to flasks of which it is harnessed. It is in Quebec that it lands, and not in France, which makes him suppose that being gone up with the vertical, it is the rotation of the Earth which changed its place of landing.

Its second attempt makes him use a machine which could approach the launchers on current floors: it acts of a cabin out of wooden, surrounded of "quantity of flying rockets". The first phases of the rise resemble those of our traditional launchers: "the flame having devoured a row of rockets, another stage blazed up, then another." Finally, the hero arrives on the Moon, after being ejected of his machine which burned the totality of its rockets, and being captured by lunar attraction.

In the States and Empires of the Sun (appeared in 1662, seven years after the death of its author), Cyrano again puts in scene its hero of the Voyage in the Moon and makes him borrow a means of transport holding of fits with body or the sedan-chair: "a large extremely light
box and which closed strong just", a machine of crystal equipped with a sail driven by solar winds.

Cyrano of Bergerac was thus based on the assumption of the luminous energy of stars, checked today by modern science. Simply, this energy is so weak that it would be necessary to plan solar veils of imposing size (of the order of the thousand of kilometers) to be likely to convert the photon energy of a star into effective driving force.


Romain Dabek
Novels about this theme
Les Etats et Empires du Soleil
Voyage dans la Lune (l'Autre Monde ou les Etats et Empires de la Lune)
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