Robert Hutchings Goddard


1882-1945

Mass rocketry was used in real warfare as early as 1807 when Denmark joined France in the Napoleonic war against England. In retaliation,
England fired 25,000 gunpowder-filled rockets into the city of copenhagen and almost destroyed it. The rocket England used was called the
Congrave for its English inventor, Sir William Congrave. The same rocket was used by the British against Fort Mchenry in the war of
1812 with the United States. However, early rockets were inaccurate against a single target. The Fort was only slightly damaged, and
because America had no large cities at that time for a mass attack, she did not regard the rocket as a serious weapon.


When the war of 1812 was over, America still paid little attention to rockets. She remained faithful to the good guns of Eli Whitney and turned
her efforts toward developing the vast new territory of Lousiana, which she had recentrly acquired. Even during the civil war rockets were
ignored. The military depended upon cannon and shot. Around 1870, William Hale, a North-American, invented a rocket that could rotate
and therefore lessen erratic flight. He achieved this by means of three curved metal vanes inserted into the exhaust nozzle. Hale had planned
the weapon for use in indian uprisings but there is no record that it was ever used for this purpose. Early in the 20th century a swedish
scientist used Hale's idea and also built a rocket. When it was demonstrated, the krupp company of Germany bought the patent.



Robert Goddard with one of his rockets

Despite these development, the rocket remained a neglected weapon. Even during world war I rockets were used principally to determine an
enemy position. During the period between the two world wars a romanian inventor proposed that transatlantic mail be carried by rocket.
The inventor, Herman Oberth, explained his idea in a lecture in 1928. His invention included a parachute for the mail and liquid fuel for the
rocket. The idea received only little attention in North-America. But the Germans became interested. The following year, an Austrian who
lived in the Alps built the V rockets for Alpine mail. This inventor actually sent much European mail by rocket. One of his rockets was five
and a half feet high. Then, suddenly, the Austrian Government ordered the inventor to destroy all of his work.


The Germans did not lose interest and continued their work on rockets. In the early 1900's a group of sientists interested in the rocket as a
weapon, formed the German Rocket society. This was the beginning of the "secret weapons" of world war II. In rocket development, the
Germans were far advance of other countries when the second world war broke out. One of the reasons for their success was that they
had studied the results of brilliant experiments that were being carried out by an American named Goddard, who has justly been called
"the father of modern rocketry". This man, Robert Hutchings Goddard of Worcester, Massachusetts, began his experiment and tests when
he was a professonr of physics at Clark University, where he had taken his doctorate. The Goddard and Rice, was an old firm that made
machinery for the manufacture of newsprint and smooth-coated paper for magazines.


Young Goddard was not interested in machinery. He was interested in rockets because he wanted to send instrument into space to learn
about the weather at high altitudes and he wanted to devise rockets that could be used to soar into the stratosphere. Most people
protested that it was not necessary to know about high altitudes. They were more concerned about the weather closer to earth.
Here we are ready to ask ourselves the question, What is a rocket? The answer is that a rocket is a simple machine. It is based on sir
Isaac Newton's third law of motion. This law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For example, in an
ignited sly rocket, the burning powder causes hot gases to be expelled downward with considerable force. An equal reacting force, acting
in the opposite direction, drives the rocket upward.


An airplane cannot go to extremely high altitudes because its engines require oxygen from the atmosphere. The supply of available oxigen
decreases as the plane goes higher and higher. But a rocket as built by Goddard, carried its own oxygen along with its fuel. Such a rocket,
Goddard believed, could be projected into space, even beyong the pull of the gravity of the earth. Early rockets were powered by gunpowder.
Then Goddard began to experiment with liquid fuels. Although he received a grant of $11,000 from ghe Guggenheim Foundation he was, for
a time, forced to give up his experiments for lack of money. During the 1920's he worked for the United States Signal corps at
Mt. Wilson observatory near Pasadena, California.


Goddard continued his experiments with liquid fuels. Such fuels are often used in the large rockets of today, but until the outbreak of
world war II, American military men paid very little attention to the use of liquid hydrogen which could be used as fuel for rockets when
combined with liquid oxigen. It wasn't until the second year of World war II that america produced the bazooka, an invention of Goddard's,
that was manufactured by the General Electric Company. The bazooka used pentolite, a new fuel. This weapon, shaped like a stovpipe and
carried by a paratrooper, could be operated by one man. It greatly surprised the Germans in the North African campaign, but the Germans
themselves were about to release an even more deadly rocket, the V-2. This rocket took a heavy toll of English cities during the latter days
of the war. However, since for every weapon there is an "anti" or counterweapon, the English found that rockets could be used against rockets.


From their uncomfortable assembled launching pads, they were able to send rockets to meet rockets over the city of London. Goddard did not
live to see his theories proven correct when, in the 1950's and the 1960's the great rockets that used liquid hydrogen were developed . Starting
with a vague vision, Goddard, almost single-handely, had contributed the key ideas that enabled rocketry to develop into one of the great
branches of modern engineering. In 1964, congress voted over 5 billion dollars for "the moon race". This is a gigantic project that uses a
variety of skills in business and the professions. It involves the manufacture of liquid fuels, the development of instruments to send back data
from outer space, the construction and maintenance of rockets installations and the acquisition of a vast new body of knowledge about the
capacities of the human mind and body. The moon project, which affects the lives of millions of people, was made possible by the progress of
rocketry. This projec, in turn, will result in a wide variety of developments in many other fields of human endeavor.


Goddard was very concerned with the peaceful used of rockets. He was interested in the exploration of outer space, and the benefits that
mankind might gain through such exploration. Much of what will happen in the futue can be attributed to the dedicated work and vision of
Robert H. Goddard.

There is not doubt that this man contribute to the molding of the great North America.

The men who molded North America


Julio Duran

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