Montauciel the sheep was one of the world’s first aeronauts
Long before Sputnik, Laika the Soviet space dog, and even the Wright brothers, there was Montauciel the sheep and his fowl companions. In the 1700s, people wanted to test to see if humans could withstand time spent at high altitudes. There had already been several unmanned hot air balloon flights, and in 1783, the first flight containing a land animal took off. Montauciel the sheep went up in the balloon, accompanied by a duck (a bird already used to high altitudes) and a rooster (a flightless bird). The scientists believed that if a sheep could survive the trip, so could a human. The animals all returned unharmed…mostly. Montauciel apparently kicked the rooster before the balloon took off, the big bully. (Fun fact: his name means “ascend into the sky” in French.)
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