Robert Goddard

Goddard was the first scientist to realize the potential of missiles and space flight and to contribute directly in bringing them to realization. The dedicated labors of this modest man went largely unrecognized in the U.S. until the dawn of what is now called the "Space Age." High honors and wide acclaim, belated but richly deserved, now come to the name of Robert H. Goddard.

Assembled Rocket
Goddard moved his experiments to Roswell, New Mexico, as his rockets got bigger. By the mid 1930s, Goddard's rockets had broken the sound barrier [1191 km per hour (741 mph)] and flown to heights of up to 2.7 km (1.7 miles). (Photograph courtesy NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

In memory of this brilliant scientist, a major space and earth science laboratory, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, was established on May 1, 1959. Later that year on September 16, Congress authorized the issuance of a gold medal in honor of Professor Robert H. Goddard.

Historic Firsts
Robert H. Goddard's basic contributions to missilery and space flight is a lengthy list. As such, it is an eloquent testimonial to his lifetime of work in establishing and demonstrating the fundamental principles of rocket propulsion.

1912: First to explore mathematically the practicality of using rocket propulsion to reach high altitudes and even the moon
1914: First to receive a U.S. patent for the idea of a multi-stage rocket
1915: First to prove, by actual static test, that a rocket will work in a vacuum
1926: First to develop and shoot a liquid fuel rocket using a mixture of gasoline and liquid oxygen
1929: First to shoot a scientific payload (barometer and camera) in a rocket flight
1932: First to use vanes in the rocket motor blast for guidance
1932: First to develop a gyro control apparatus for rocket flight
1935: First to launch a liquid-propellant rocket that attained a speed greater than the speed of sound (700 mph)
1937: First to successfully launch a rocket with a motor pivoted on gimbals under the influence of a gyro mechanism

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On the Shoulders of Giants
Robert Goddard
Historic Firsts
Links and References