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Robert H. Goddard

Inventor, Scientist,

Rocket Pioneer

Born Worcester, Massachusetts

October 5, 1882—August 10, 1945

Dr. Robert Goddard received a Science Degree from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1908, and his Doctorate in Physics from Clark University in 1911. He taught Physics at Clark University from 1909-1911 and at Princeton from 1912-1913. At this time, Dr. Goddard began his monumental work on the development of rockets by exploring mathematically the practicability of using rocket escape velocity for space flight. In 1914, he received the first U.S. patent on the idea of multi-stage rockets.

By 1916, when Dr. Goddard reached the limit of his own resources, the Smithsonian Institution gave him a grant that enabled him to continue his work on solid-propellant rockets and begin development on liquid propellant vehicles. During World War I he developed and demonstrated the basic idea of a Bazooka-type weapon to the U.S. Army.

On March 16, 1926, Dr. Goddard, after more than fifteen years of research, launched the world's first liquid-fueled rocket in Auburn, Mass. It traveled 184 feet in 2 1/2 seconds, at an average speed of 70 miles per hour. This was followed by another liquid-fueled 11-foot rocket launched on July 17, 1929, which carried a payload of a small camera and barometer. Thus the new era of controlled liquid-fueled rocketry was born.

From 1930-1932, and again from 1934-1942, Dr. Goddard took a leave of absence from Clark University to engage in rocket research under a Guggenheim Foundation grant. On March 28, 1935, he fired the first rocket equipped with gyroscopic controls, which attained a height of 4.800 feet, a distance of 13,000 feet and a speed of 550 miles per hour. During World War II, he was assigned by the U.S. Navy to the development of practical jet-assisted takeoff and liquid propellant rocket motors capable of variable thrust.

Invested 1966 in the International Aerospace Hall of Fame

From "These We Honor," The International Hall of Fame; The San Diego Aerospace Museum, San Diego, CA. 1984


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Updated: March 12, 2004