Ruggieri, Claude (fl. early 19th century)

Artwork by Larry Toschik of French authorities preventing Caluse Ruggieri from attempting to launch a small boy into the air using a rocket cluster

French authorities prevent Ruggieri from attempting to launch a boy into the air using a rocket cluster. Artwork credit: Larry Toschik.

Claude Ruggieri was an Italian rocket-maker from a family which for centuries had been famous for its firework displays. To advertise the reliability of his fireworks, Ruggieri gave a number of demonstrations, as early as 1806, using quite large rockets to carry small animals such as mice and rats, which were ejected and brought back to earth safely by parachute. These flights were undertaken as publicity stunts, and not with any intention of obtaining scientific data, but they are of interest in that they appear to be the first occasions on which rockets were used to carry living creatures. See also animals in space.


Ruggieri continued making bigger and better rockets and, in 1830, while living in Paris, announced that he would fire a large "combination-rocket", designed to lift a ram into the air. This announcement attracted the interest of young man who volunteered to take the place of the ram. The offer was accepted and Ruggieri announced that the great ascent would take place, appropriately, from the Champs de Mars. Just before the appointed launch, however, the "young man" was discovered to be a boy of 11, whereupon the French authorities intervened and cancelled the event.