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Home > Early Days of Rockets and Aeronautics > Notes on Robert Goddard

Notes on Robert Goddard


The most famous view of Dr. Goddard with the 1926 rocketRobert Goddard made basic contributions to rocketry in flight hardware. Following graduation from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Goddard completed graduate work at Clark University in 1911 and became a member of the faculty there.

In the 1920's, he continued earlier experiments with liquid-fueled vehicles and is credited with the first flight of a liquid-propellant rocket on March 16,1926. With private support, Goddard was able to pursue development of larger rockets; he and a small crew of technicians established a test site in a remote area of the Southwest not far from Roswell, New Mexico.

From 1930 to 1941, Goddard made substantial progress in the development of progressively larger rockets, which attained altitudes of 2,300 meters, and refined his equipment for guidance and control, his techniques of welding, and his insulation, pumps and other associated equipment.

In many respects, Goddard laid the essential foundations of practical rocket technology, including his research paper entitled "A Method of Attaining Extreme Altitude" (published by the Smithsonian Institution in 1919)—a primer in theory, calculations, and methods—and his numerous patents that comprised a broad catalog of functional hardware.

In spite of basic contributions in workable hardware, his work went unheralded for years. Goddard preferred to work quietly, absorbed in the immediate problems of hardware development and wary of the extreme sensationalism the public seemed to attach to suggestions of rocketry and space travel.

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