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- Gregory Benford

Weightlessness (Godwin)  
  This appears to be the first description of the idea of weightlessness in space.  

In 1638, Bishop Francis Godwin published a story in which strange birds called Gansas migrated annually to the moon. In this passage, his protagonist hitches a ride.

It was now the season that these Birds were wont to take their flight away, as our Cuckoes and swallowes doe in Spaine towards the Autumne. They (as after I perceived) mindfull of their usuall voyage, even as I began to settle my selfe for the taking of them in, as it were with one consent, rose up, and having no other place higher to make toward, to my unspeakeable feare and amazement strooke bolt upright, and never did linne towring upward, and still upward, for the space, as I might guesse, of one whole hower, toward the end of which time, mee thought I might perceive them to labour lesse and lesse; till at length, O incredible thing, they forbare moving any thing at al ! and yet remained unmoveable, as stedfastly, as if they had beene upon so many perches; the Lines slacked; neither I, nor the Engine moved at all, but abode still as having no manner of weight.

I found then by this Experience that which no Philosopher ever dreamed of, to wit, that those things which wee call heavie, do not sinke toward the Center of the Earth, as their naturall place, but as drawen by a secret property of the Globe of the Earth, or rather some thing within the same, in like sort as the Loadstone draweth Iron, being within the compass of the beames attractive.

From The Man in the Moone, by Francis Godwin.
Published by Unknown in 1638
Additional resources -

Here is a brief description of part of the trip made with Gansas:

Not many howers after the departure of that divelish company from me, my Gansa's began to bestir themselves, still directing their course toward the Globe or body of the Moone: And they made their way with that incredible swiftnesse, as I thinke they gained not so little as Fifty Leagues in every hower. In that passage I noted three things very remarkeable: one that the further we went, the lesser the Globe of the Earth appeared unto us; whereas still on the contrary side the MOONE shewed her selfe more and more monstrously huge.

During the 19th century, Jules Verne probably influenced more people with his description of weightlessness, in his novel From The Earth To The Moon.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Man in the Moone
  More Ideas and Technology by Francis Godwin
  Tech news articles related to The Man in the Moone
  Tech news articles related to works by Francis Godwin

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