Robert Goddard Biography & Facts
Robert Hutchings Goddard (October 5, 1882 – August 10, 1945) was an American engineer, professor, physicist, and inventor who is credited with creating and building the world's first liquid-fueled rocket. Goddard successfully launched his rocket on March 16, 1926, which ushered 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 would make spaceflight possible. He has been called the man who ushered in the Space Age.: xiii 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 pioneered modern methods such as two-axis control (gyroscopes and steerable thrust) to allow rockets to control their flight effectively.
Although his work in the field was revolutionary, Goddard received little public support, moral or monetary, for his research and development work.: 92, 93 He was a shy person, and rocket research was not considered a suitable pursuit for a physics professor.: 12 The press and other scientists ridiculed his theories of spaceflight. As a result, he became protective of his privacy and his work.
Years after his death, at the dawn of the Space Age, Goddard came to be recognized as one of the founding fathers of modern rocketry, along with Robert Esnault-Pelterie, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and Hermann Oberth. He not only recognized early on the potential of rockets for atmospheric research, ballistic missiles and space travel but also was the first to scientifically study, design, construct and fly the precursory rockets needed to eventually implement those ideas.NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center was named in Goddard's honor in 1959. He was also inducted into the International Aerospace Hall of Fame in 1966, and the International Space Hall of Fame in 1976.
Early life and inspiration
Goddard was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, to Nahum Danford Goddard (1859–1928) and Fannie Louise Hoyt (1864–1920). Robert was their only child to survive; a younger son, Richard Henry, was born with a spinal deformity and died before his first birthday. Nahum was employed by manufacturers, and he invented several useful tools. Goddard had English paternal family roots in New England with William Goddard (1628–91) a London grocer who settled in Watertown, Massachusetts in 1666. On his maternal side he was descended from John Hoyt and other settlers of Massachusetts in the late 1600s.
Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Boston. With a curiosity about nature, he studied the heavens using a telescope from his father and observed the birds flying. Essentially a country boy, he loved the outdoors and hiking with his father on trips to Worcester and became an excellent marksman with a rifle.: 63, 64 In 1898, his mother contracted tuberculosis and they moved back to Worcester for the clear air. On Sundays, the family attended the Episcopal church, and Robert sang in the choir.: 16
With the electrification of American cities in the 1880s, the young Goddard became interested in science—specifically, engineering and technology. When his father showed him how to generate static electricity on the family's carpet, the five-year-old's imagination was sparked. Robert experimented, believing he could jump higher if the zinc from a battery could be charged by scuffing his feet on the gravel walk. But, holding the zinc, he could jump no higher than usual.: 15 Goddard halted the experiments after a warning from his mother that if he succeeded, he could "go sailing away and might not be able to come back.": 9
He experimented with chemicals and created a cloud of smoke and an explosion in the house.: 64
Goddard's father further encouraged Robert's scientific interest by providing him with a telescope, a microscope, and a subscription to Scientific American.: 10 Robert developed a fascination with flight, first with kites and then with balloons. He became a thorough diarist and documenter of his work—a skill that would greatly benefit his later career. These interests merged at age 16, when Goddard attempted to construct a balloon out of aluminum, shaping the raw metal in his home workshop, and filling it with hydrogen. After nearly five weeks of methodical, documented efforts, he finally abandoned the project, remarking, "... balloon will not go up. ... Aluminum is too heavy. Failior [sic] crowns enterprise." However, the lesson of this failure did not restrain Goddard's growing determination and confidence in his work.: 21 He wrote in 1927, "I imagine an innate interest in mechanical things was inherited from a number of ancestors who were machinists.": 7
Cherry tree dream
He became interested in space when he read H. G. Wells' science fiction classic The War of the Worlds at 16 years old. His dedication to pursuing space flight became fixed on October 19, 1899. The 17-year-old Goddard climbed a cherry tree to cut off dead limbs. He was transfixed by the sky, and his imagination grew. He later wrote:
On this day I climbed a tall cherry tree at the back of the barn ... and as I looked toward the fields at the east, I imagined how wonderful it would be to make some device which had even the possibility of ascending to Mars, and how it would look on a small scale, if sent up from the meadow at my feet. I have several photographs of the tree, taken since, with the little ladder I made to climb it, leaning against it.
It seemed to me then that a weight whirling around a horizontal shaft, moving more rapidly above than below, could furnish lift by virtue of the greater centrifugal force at the top of the path.
I was a different boy when I descended the tree from when I ascended. Existence at last seemed very purposive.: 26
For the rest of his life, he observed October 19 as "Anniversary Day", a private commemoration of the day of his greatest inspiration.
Education and early studies
The young Goddard was a thin and frail boy, almost always in fragile health. He suffered from stomach problems, pleurisy, colds, and bronchitis, and he fell two years behind his classmates. He became a voracious reader, regularly visiting the local public library to borrow books on the physical sciences.: 16, 19
Aerodynamics and motion
Goddard's interest in aerodynamics led him to study some of Samuel Langley's scientific papers in the periodical Smithsonian. In these papers, Langley wrote that birds flap their wings with different force on each side to turn in the air. Inspired by these articles, the teenage Goddard watched swallows and ch.... Discover the Robert Goddard popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Robert Goddard books.