Dr. Robert Goddard

Robert Hutchings Goddard was born in 1882 in the state of Massachusetts in the USA. From a very young age, he had an interest in science, technology and flight. He conducted various chemical and mechanical experiments as a teenager. In 1908, he graduated from Worchester Polytechnic with a degree in physics. In 1912, only nine years after the Wright brothers’ first flight, Goddard explored the possibility of using rockets to reach high altitudes or even the moon. He also proved that rockets could work in a vacuum. He was awarded a patent for a multi-stage rocket in 1914. On 16 March, 1926, he accomplished a feat which would earn him the title, ‘The Father of Modern Rocket Propulsion’. On that day, he successfully launched the world’s first liquid-fuelled rocket. According to NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), “the flight of Goddard’s rocket was as significant to history as that of the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk.” However, Goddard’s contribution to the science of rockets did not end there. In 1929, he fired the first rocket with a scientific payload. He later incorporated vanes to rocket motors for guidance, whilst also introducing gyro controls. Later, in 1937, he launched a rocket which had a motor that pivoted on gimbals, controlled by gyros. Although most of Goddard’s incredible and invaluable contributions to the world of rocket science took place before World War II, his work did not end there. The U.S. Navy tasked Goddard to design rockets with variable thrust and develop jet assisted take-off systems. He died on 10 August, 1945, just before the end of World War II.