the 20th Century (Early to Mid-20th Century)
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||Hale's story and others like it entertained readers, but World
War I enlisted rockets once again for military purposes. French
pilots rigged rockets to the wing struts of their airplanes
and aimed them at enemy observation balloons filled with highly
||On December 17, 1903, two brothers from Dayton, Ohio, named
Wilbur and Orville Wright, were successful in flying an airplane
they built. Their powered aircraft flew for 12 seconds above
the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, making them the
first people to pilot a heavier-than-air machine that took off
on its own power, remained under control, and sustained flight.
||While engineers pursued many amazing developments in aviation
during the first half of the 20th century, other Americans,
like Robert H. Goddard, dedicated themselves to new achievements
in the area of rocketry. In 1926, Goddard launched the first
liquid-fueled rocket and laid the foundation for a technology
that would eventually take man to the moon and beyond. Fueled
by liquid oxygen and gasoline, Robert Goddard's rocket flew
for only 2.5 seconds, climbed 41 feet, and landed 184 feet away
in a cabbage patch.
||In addition to Dr. Goddard's pioneer work, American experimentation
in rocketry prior to World War II grew, primarily in technical
societies. This is an early rocket motor designed and developed
by the American Rocket Society in 1932.
||The foremost authority on rocketry outside the United States
was Dr. Hermann Oberth, a Hungarian-born German. In 1923, he
published a book about rocket travel into outer space. Because
of his important writings, many small rocket societies sprang
up around the world. In the spring of 1930, a young Wernher
von Braun assisted Oberth in his early experiments in testing
a liquid-fueled rocket with about 15 pounds of thrust.
||Years later at their Peenemuende Research Facility in Germany,
the s, under the technical direction of Von Braun, developed
the V-2 Rocket. The V-2 became one of the best known of all
early missiles. The 46-foot rocket utilized alcohol and liquid
oxygen as fuel and could carry a 1,650 pound warhead 225 miles.
Some historians have estimated that by the end of World War
II, the Germans had fired nearly 3,000 V-2 weapons against England
and other targets.
||As the war ended, the United States developed an interest
in the technical capability of the Germans. A team of American
scientists was dispatched to Europe to collect information and
equipment related to German rocket progress. "Project Paperclip"
enabled the German rocket specialists to come to the United
States to initiate advances in American rocketry.
||The German team of specialists was initially assigned to Fort
Bliss Texas where they reassembled and tested V-2 rockets brought
to America from Germany; later they came to Redstone Arsenal
in Huntsville, Alabama.
||In Huntsville, the German team, including an increasing number
of American-born members, would develop plans for exploring
space and would build the rockets that would serve as the foundation
for the American space program for years to come.
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