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Smithson was only eighteen when the first balloon was launched, and like many of his contemporaries he probably retained a fascination for this great triumph (which had been brought about through his science, chemistry) all his life. He knew a number of the early aeronauts, as they were called. He probably saw one of Garnerin’s ascents in London in 1802. Garnerin was famous for parachuting out of his balloon, as seen in this illustration.,  Image number:SIL28-177-03