Auguste and Jean Piccard, twin brothers, were born on January 28th 1884. Auguste became a physicist, and Jean an organic chemist and aeronautical engineer. Each earned a doctorate in natural science from the Swiss Institute of Technology, and both devoted their adult life to scientific research and education. They contributed significantly to the advancement of scientific knowledge of the stratosphere, ballooning, and of the means for man to survive in a high altitude environment. Although the brothers were physically separated most of their lives, they collaborated on their research efforts throughout their careers. Auguste is best known for his design of a pressurized balloon gondola and its successful application to high altitude operation. Convinced that survival in the stratosphere required a pressurized cabin, Auguste devised a spherical aluminum gondola which could be pressurized to approximate sea level pressure and which was equipped with a system for reusing its own air supply. On May 27th 1931, Auguste and a young assistant ascended from Augsburg, Germany, and reached a record altitude of 51,775 feet. Later, on August 18th 1932, he made a second record-breaking ascent to 53,152 feet. Auguste's brilliant and innovative development of the pressurized gondola, and his spectacular high altitude flights, contributed substantially to the international body of aeronautical knowledge, contributing to man's space programs. Following his great success in high altitude research, Auguste turned his considerable intellect and energy to successful deep sea research utilizing submersibles. He died in Lausanne, Switzerland, on March 24th 1962. Jean Piccard moved to the United States in 1926 but continued to collaborate with his brother in the development of the stratosphere balloon. Jean and his wife made a balloon ascension from Dearborn, Michigan, on October 23rd 1934 and reached an altitude of 57,979 feet. During the course of this flight, they tested a liquid oxygen system. As a result of the experience gained from this flight, Jean was instrumental in the development of a liquid oxygen converter for use in balloons and high flying aircraft. In 1936, he developed and launched the first plastic film balloon, which was the forerunner of modern balloons. He later devised the multiple balloon concept, making the first manned ascent utilizing multiple balloons in 1937.
Inducted in 1991.
Portrait Location: Not Currently on Floor