From the Earth to the Moon (1865) is a humorous science fantasy novel by Jules Verne and is one of the earliest entries in that genre. It tells the story of three well-to-do members of a post-American Civil War gun club who build an enormous sky-facing columbiad and launch themselves in a projectile/spaceship from it to a Moon landing.
The story is also notable in that Verne attempted to do some rough calculations as to the requirements for the cannon and, considering the total lack of any data on the subject at the time, some of his figures are surprisingly close to reality. However, his scenario turned out to be impractical for safe manned space travel since a much longer muzzle would have been required to reach escape velocity while limiting acceleration to survivable limits for the passengers.
The story bears similarities to the real-life Apollo program:
Verne's cannon was named the Columbiad; the Apollo 11 command module was named Columbia.
The spacecraft crew consisted of three persons in each case.
The physical dimensions of the projectile are very close to the dimensions of the Apollo CSM.
Verne's voyage blasted off from Florida, as did all Apollo missions. (Verne correctly states in the book that objects launch into space most easily if they are launched from the earth's equator. In the book Florida and Texas compete for the launch, with Florida winning.)
The character of "Michel Ardan" in the novel was inspired by Nadar.
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August 24, 2008
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