All my life, I've been speculating in my head about all kinds of "alternative timelines". One of the most intriguing to me are all the ones that concern space and "steampunk" technology.
Recently, I watched the movie "First Man" (2018), which contain a few minutes of juicy, realistic space footage, including an early 1960s experiment to just about "enter space" (weightlessness) with a very crude and air-plane-looking "space craft", just barely making it back down again due to malfunctioning hardware. The sounds made inside the vehicle are extremely disturbing. Later in the movie, we get to see them going all the way to the moon and land it there, all using very analogue and, frankly, scary equipment.
There's something inherently frightening to me about the cold, dead, unfriendly void out there, and the thought of going there in basically a glorified tin can with a large ball which physically spins around to show you the angles of the spacecraft and whatnot, well, it makes me feel uneasy. Even though obviously very smart people were working on these things, with massive funding, the thought of sitting there hearing the barely-space-tested diesel engines coughing as you fire up another rocket to propel you further and further up and finally reach "space"... and then you hear metal parts creaking ominously and you pray to God that it actually is properly sealed, doesn't leak oxygen, and that the on-board computer won't start malfunctioning. Not to mention keeping contact with "ground control". My skin starts crawling just thinking about it. I'm definitely not one of those "brave pioneers"...
Of course, the 1960s technology was cutting edge to them, so they wouldn't be seeing it with quite the same eyes as I do now, after being fed countless movies where they have incredibly advanced sci-fi-like space ships with fancy interiors where you can just walk around and there's tons of room for everyone, etc.
This made me think again of a crazy thought I've had in my head since I was very young: would it have been possible to somehow go to the moon, or at least go up into weightlessness and get back down again with a man-made contraption of some kind in the year 1850-1860?
I picked the year span 1850-1860 because it's not too close to the 1960s, but also not as far away as to be completely out of the question. I figure that by the mid-1800s, they at least had rather advanced factories and means of producing large parts/objects for huge metallic ships and trains and stuff like that.
As the question title says, everyone magically comes together to provide as much funding, expertise, cooperation, etc. as possible, but they are obviously still stuck with whatever had been invented at that point, or possibly 1850 + 10 years at most. So they get 10 years to do this. (If there is no time limit, the year will soon be 1969...)
Note: Nothing says that it must resemble or use the same methods as what we made in the 1960s. It can be much larger in size, it can be fired from a giant space gun, it can be insanely wasteful, it doesn't need to be "clever" in any way, it doesn't even need any windows if they can navigate without them, etc.
Yes, this is a crazy question, and I'm almost certain that any responses will say that it's just not possible, but I sure would like to hear the details, and possible ways that this could have actually happen. As you can imagine, the thought of sitting inside some huge metallic vehicle constructed in 1860, with much cruder science than the 1960s (which look like something from the far future by comparison), really freaks me out. But it also intrigues me, which is why I'm asking.
Since this didn't actually happen, we are assuming that, in this theoretical timeline, everyone in those days for some reason got a very strong urge/incentive to do this, and really wanted it to happen.