Space conquest – The story of the Wan Hu
Wan Hu (万户 or 万虎), a high rank official, Chinese born in the 16th century, is known to be the first person to die from space flight. His goal was to go to the Moon and to do so, he hung 47 rockets on a chair and asked his servants to light them. 400 years later, to pay homage to him, NASA gave his name to one of the craters on the Moon.
First rockets were weapons, invented in China around the 13th century
Far from the spatial vision that we have today, the first rockets were weapons, invented in China around the 13th century. They are then only cardboard tubes containing powder, whose very random shots are dangerous even for those who light them.
It was in 1500 that the first attempt to launch a human being using rockets would have taken place. Wan-Hu, a Chinese official, is said to have climbed on a chair equipped with 47 rockets in the hope of reaching the Moon. He obviously did not come out alive!
Subsequently, the Chinese improved the technique of rockets by adding guide rods and stabilizing fins, or by using iron cylinders rather than cardboard, which made them more secure, stable and powerful. But developments in conventional artillery lead to more effective weapons, and rockets are now only used to make pretty fireworks.
It was at the end of the 18th century that in the West, triumphant science and technology gave us a glimpse of the concrete possibility of exploring the sky, using lighter-than-air devices. The adventure begins in France with Pilâtre de Rozier. In 1783, he was the first human being to fly 1,000 meters high and return safe and sound, aboard the hot air balloon invented by the Montgolfier brothers.
A crater on the Moon is named after him
Wan Hoo is an impact crater on the far side of the Moon, so it cannot be seen directly from Earth. The radius of Wan Hoo crater is 21 km (around 13 miles).