The prehistory of spaceflight is filled with mad scientists. Some of their work led directly to the development of space exploration…others had a much weirder destiny. Such was the case with Robert Condit, who built a rocket in 1928 that he planned to fly from Baltimore to Venus.
By Ron Miller (io9, 5/2/2013)
Condit’s spaceship was a 24-foot-long bullet made of angle iron and sailcloth. It was constructed with the aid of brothers Harry B. and Sterling Uhler of Baltimore—-where the launch was to take place.
Apparently Condit, described as a “Miami chemist”, had built an earlier rocket in his home state. His goal had been Venus then, as well (the rocket was to have been guided to the planet by “polarized magnetic controls”).
The Baltimore rocket was fueled with 50 gallons of gasoline with eight steel pipes for engines. The several layers of sailcloth that covered the rocket were impregnated with varnish making an airtight shell “as brittle as glass.”
More here at io9 – http://io9.com/the-great-baltimore-space-program-of-1928-453865828