US physicist; 1882-1945

The first person to build liquid-propellant rockets that flew (1926) and to build one that was able to break the sound barrier (1935).

In 1919 his small book on rocket propulsion was published. It mentions how rockets might be used to reach the Moon. He also foresaw the multistage rocket and rocket devices such as the nozzle and combustion chamber.

NASA named the Goddard Space Flight Center to honor him as the "Father of American Rocketry".

American scientist (1882-1945). Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, he endured long periods of illness throughout his childhood and adolescence and was often unable to attend school. He majored in physics at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute and received his Ph.D. from Clark University. Goddard became interested in rocketry while on the faculty at Clark and began a long series of experiments in rocket propulsion both with solid fuels and with liquid oxygen and gasoline, leading to the first flight of a liquid-fuel rocket in 1926. In 1929, his work came to the attention of Charles Lindbergh, who persuaded the Guggenheim Fund for the Promotion of Aeronautics to support his studies.

Goddard moved to Roswell, New Mexico, where he worked for the rest of his life on larger rockets capable of reaching higher altitudes--one of his rockets broke the sound barrier in 1935. He was unable to convince the military that his rockets could have military value, and spent World War II working on JATO units in Annapolis. He died of throat cancer in 1945, just a few days after the Nagasaki atomic bomb was dropped.

A dedicated fan of science fiction, Goddard celebrated every October 19th as the anniversary of the day in 1899 when he climbed a cherry tree near his home and, inspired by H. G. Wells' novel "The War of the Worlds", had a vision of traveling to Mars in a rocket...

Research from GURPS Who's Who 2, compiled by Phil Masters, "Robert Goddard" by William H. Stoddard, pp. 106-107.

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