Dr. Goddard and His Contributions

Volume 1, Issue 1

By: Kari

April 21, 2009


     Who is Dr. Robert Goddard? Dr. Robert Goddard was a fantastic man who invented the rocket on March 16, 1926 at Auburn, Massachusetts. He used liquid fuel, which made the rocket the first successful one in rocket propulsion. Dr. Goddard invented the rocket because he was firmly grounded in science, to boot. He grew interested in rocketry after reading some of H.G. Wells’ books.  This inspired him to make rockets and test them to fulfill his interest.
     Born Robert H. Goddard, the son of a machine shop owner, was raised on Boston, Massachusetts. His family returned to Worcester when he was 16 and he attended the Polytechnic Institute, and graduated in 1908. Goddard received his Ph.D. in physics at Clark University in Worcester in 1911. He taught at Princeton, but returned to Clark in 1914 and stayed there for thirty years. As mentioned earlier, he read much of H. G. Wells, which fascinated him in rocketry. In 1914, he gained two patents involved in rocket machinery, and in 1919 he had published a small book titled A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes. Goddard tested the first of a new type of rocket engine, one using gasoline and liquid oxygen as the motive force in 1923. This was the first radical advancement over prior solid fueled rockets. In 1926, Goddard sent off his first rocket. It was four feet tall, six inches in diameter, and put in a frame like a children’s jungle gym. Goddard was able to get a few thousand dollars from Smithsonian Institution, and in July of 1929, he sent up a larger rocket near Worcester, Massachusetts. It went faster and much higher than the first rocket. More significantly, it stored a barometer, thermometer, and small camera to photograph the events. It was the first instrument-carrying rocket.


      As Goddard tested more and more rockets, Lindbergh became fascinated in his work. He visited Goddard and was able to persuade Daniel Guggenheim, a humanitarian, to award a grant of $50,000. With this money, Goddard set up an experiment station in Roswell, New Mexico. Here he constructed larger rockets and developed ideas that are necessary in current rocketry. Goddard launched rockets that accomplished speeds of 550 miles per hour and heights of a mile and a half. He made systems for steering a rocket in flight by using a rudder-like device to repel the gaseous exhaust, with gyroscopes to keep the rocket in the right direction. He also patented the device of a multistage rocket. This was all done between the years of 1930 and 1935.
     The government only financed Goddard during World War II, and then to have him design small rockets to help navy planes take off from carriers. One of Goddard’s early inventions that was perfected was the World War II weapon called the bazooka. He also developed the first liquid propellant rocket motors capable of variable thrust. German rocket experts came to America after the war and were questioned about rocketry. They asked of Goddard, but American officials could not answer because he had been neglected during his lifetime and died of throat cancer on August 10, 1945 before that neglect could be made up. At the time of his death he held 214 patents in rocketry. Goddard lived long enough to learn of the German rockets, and even see one, but not long enough for the Space Age. If we were to credit the Space Age to one man, that man would be Goddard. In memory of the brilliant scientist, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, was established on May 1, 1959 in his memory.

Dr. Goddard's First Rocket

As shown, this is Goddard's first rocket before launch in 1926


Dr. Goddard Blog Link

This link leads to the Dr. Goddard blog link. There will be a statement about Dr. Goddard's life and I would like you to answer the question that I have posted.