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Goddard (1882)

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Robert Goddard (1882)

image of Dr. Robert Goddard

Source: NASA, Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Robert Goddard is given credit as being one of the fathers of modern rocketry. Though not given credit during his lifetime, he is now recognized as a significant modern scientist. Robert Goddard was born on October 5, 1882 in Worcester, Massachusetts. As a young boy he displayed an interest and ability in science. He experimented with electricity. He became fascinated with fireworks, the beginning of his interest in rockets. Goddard attended public school in both Boston and Worcester. He attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute, a practical engineering school. He regularly journaled new ideas and inventions. After earning his degree, he taught at the institute and later at Clark University.

image of Dr. Robert Goddard with his double acting engine rocket in 1925

Source: NASA, Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

In 1920 Goddard wrote a paper describing sending an unmanned rocket to the moon. He was ridiculed by the press for this idea. Charles Lindberg became interested though and began to finance Goddard's work. Goddard moved his operation to New Mexico. During this time, he worked with parachute systems, stabilizing fins, and gyroscopes. Though his work was not widely known in the United States, Goddard's work was taken very seriously in Germany. During World War II, the Germans developed Goddard's theories further. Goddard was a faithful American and worked with the U.S. military to create and build the bazooka, an antitank weapon. He worked with the U.S. Navy to develop jet takeoff devices. Goddard died on August 10, 1945. After his death the U.S. Patent Office recognized Goddard for 214 patents regarding rocket designs. Today's rockets are based on Robert Goddard's designs and theories.