A brief history of Robert Goddard

By Willie Bodenstein

10.06.2023



Born on 5 October 1882 Robert Hutchings Goddard was an American engineer, professor, physicist, and inventor who is credited with creating and building the world's first liquid-fuelled rocket. Goddard successfully launched his model on 16 March 1926, ushering in an era of space flight and innovation. He and his team launched 34 rockets between 1926 and 1941, achieving altitudes as high as 2.6 km (1.6 mi) and speeds as fast as 885 km/h (550 mph).

Goddard's work as both theorist and engineer anticipated many of the developments that were to make spaceflight possible. He has been called the man who ushered in the Space Age. Two of Goddard's 214 patented inventions, a multi-stage rocket (1914), and a liquid-fuel rocket (1914) were important milestones toward spaceflight. His 1919 monograph A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes is considered one of the classic texts of 20th-century rocket science. Goddard successfully applied three-axis control, gyroscopes and steerable thrust to rockets to effectively control their flight.

Although his work in the field was revolutionary, Goddard received very little public support for his research and development work. The press sometimes ridiculed his theories of spaceflight. As a result, he became protective of his privacy and his work.

Goddard passed away on 10 August 10 1945. Years after his death, at the dawn of the Space Age, he came to be recognized as one of the founding fathers of modern rocketry. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre was named in Goddard's honour in 1959.





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