S. A. Andrée's Arctic balloon expedition of 1897 was an ill-fated
effort to reach the North Pole in which all three expedition members
perished. S. A. Andrée, the first Swedish balloonist, proposed a
voyage by hydrogen balloon from Svalbard to either Russia or Canada,
which was to pass, with luck, straight over the North Pole on the way.
After Andrée, Strindberg, and Frænkel lifted off from Svalbard in
July 1897, the balloon lost hydrogen quickly and crashed on the pack
ice after only two days. The explorers were unhurt but faced a
grueling trek back south across the drifting icescape. Inadequately
clothed, equipped, and prepared, and shocked by the difficulty of the
terrain, they did not make it to safety. As the Arctic winter closed
in on them in October, the group ended up exhausted on the deserted
Kvitøya in Svalbard and died there, not to be found until 33 years
later. The main causes of the tragedy are commonly considered to be
S. A. Andrée's unlimited optimism, faith in the power of technology,
and disregard for the forces of nature.
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Today's selected anniversaries:
The U.S. Library of Congress was founded.
Easter Rising: The Irish Republican Brotherhood started a rebellion in
The Soyuz 1 spacecraft crashed in Siberia, killing cosmonaut Vladimir
Eight U.S. servicemen died in Operation Eagle Claw, a failed attempt
to rescue the hostages in the Iran hostage crisis.
The Hubble Space Telescope was launched by the Space Shuttle Discovery
in mission STS-31.
Wikiquote of the day:
"The end of man is knowledge but there's one thing he can't know. He
can't know whether knowledge will save him or kill him. He will be
killed, all right, but he can't know whether he is killed because of
the knowledge which he has got or because of the knowledge which he
hasn't got and which if he had it would save him." -- Robert Penn