From the Earth to the Moon
Long before any realistic equipment existed to send man into orbit, Jules Verne (1828–1905) wrote a wildly popular book, From the Earth to the Moon, published in 1865, that explored scientific possibilities in detail. The novel follows members of an antebellum Gun Club in Baltimore who—having no peacetime use for their expertise—decide to build a cannon to blast a rocket to the moon. Using their knowledge of ballistics and artillery, the characters determine the size of the cannon, the materials needed to construct it, and the launch location in Tampa Town, Florida. Remarkable in its scientific acumen, the book outlines calculations for the cannon itself, drawing upon Newton’s law of universal gravitation. Verne’s narrative centers the action on the preparations needed for launch rather than the journey—tapping into a growing fascination with the unrealized technology. The climax of the book is the launch itself—leaving the destinies and experiences of the three passengers unknown when the book concludes.