Robert Goddard – Biography of Robert Goddard

Robert Hutchings Goddard is considered the father of modern rocketry. One of the many innovations of Goddard it was the successful test of the world’s first liquid-powered rocket.

Goddard He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, USA, on October 5, 1882. As a child, he was often ill and had long absences from school. He attended college at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he received his BA in 1908. From there, he went to Clark University, where he earned his Ph.D., taught physics, and began his experimentation with rockets.

Goddard he was, in many ways, ahead of his time. His colleagues did not understand his work and he had great difficulty obtaining financial support for his experiments. By 1915, he was considering quitting his job, as no one else seemed to think it was promising.

The long relationship of Goddard With the Smithsonian Institution he began in September 1916 when he wrote a letter to the Institution describing his rocket experiments and requesting funds to be able to continue his work. This letter was received by then-Under Secretary Charles Greeley Abbot. After reading the letter, Abbot considered the work of Goddard as “solid and resourceful”, and recommended to Secretary Charles Doolittle Walcott that the Smithsonian should support the work of Goddard. On January 5, 1917, Walcott wrote to Goddard informing him that he had received a $ 5,000 grant from the Hodgkins Fund for Atmospheric Research.

The Smithsonian continued to support the investigation of Goddard for many years, and not just with financial support. In 1919, the Smithsonian published the classic treatise on Goddard A method of reaching extreme altitudes in the Smithsonian’s miscellaneous collections“(Vol. 71, No. 2). This publication contains the basic mathematical theory underlying rocket propulsion and rocket flight.

Goddard he used to use Abbot as a sounding board for his ideas and dreams for his rockets, one of which was the eventual investigation of space. In March 1920, he sent a report to the Smithsonian titled “Report on Later Developments of the Rocket Method for Investigating Space“In this report, which he asked the Smithsonian not to release at the time, Goddard He set out his ideas on space exploration with and without an “operator”, or in other words, manned and unmanned spaceflight.

Goddard he was extremely grateful for the support the Smithsonian had shown him over the years. In a letter dated May 28, 1930, he wrote to Abbot saying he was “particularly grateful for your interest, encouragement, and vision for the future. I feel like I can’t overestimate the value of your endorsement, at a time when hardly anyone else in the world could see anything of significance in the company.“.

On March 16, 1926, Goddard successfully launched the world’s first liquid-powered rocket flight. This flight is often compared in importance to the first flight of the Wright Brothers in 1903. Another major achievement came on July 17, 1929, when Goddard tested the first rocket to carry scientific instruments, with a barometer and camera on board.

Robert Goddard made great contributions to the development of rockets and space flights. 214 patents are attributed to him, with 131 filed after his death. He died on August 10, 1945, of throat cancer. On May 1, 1959, the National Air and Space Administration (NASA) established in his memory the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.