Fine art print of a early hot air ballooning. Titled “La Minerve” Vaisseau Aerien destinemaux Decouvertes, 1803.
The early success with balloon flight inspired designers to push the limits. One of the largest was proposed by a physicist named Robertson in 1804 and called The Minerva, “an aerial vessel destined for discoveries.” Robertson’s great ship was supported by a 150-foot diameter silk balloon . For its maiden voyage, Robertson planned for the Minerva to carry 60 people, halfway around the world for a period of up to six months. It included a large barrel for storing water and wine, a gym, an observatory, a kitchen (“the only place where a fire shall be permitted”), a theatre, and a boat !