In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, astronomy and discussions about spaceflight were popular in France. But, contrary to Germany or the USA where the promotion of space travel and amateur experimentation developed, interest in amateur rocketry remained limited. It took off only in the late 1950s through the form of an educational program capitalizing on children’s enthusiasm for outer space to foster scientific education. This talk discusses a specifically French path by exploring the homemade rocket craze of the late 1950s and early 1960s. The case study sheds new light on a particular subset of astroculture, mostly consisting of experimental practices. In doing so, it examines an important, though little-explored, topic: the relationship between youth culture and astroculture.
Catherine Radtka, Historian at the French National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts