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Robert Hutchings Goddard , Baby Steps Towards the Space Age

In order to continue testing out larger and more powerful rockets, Robert Hutchings Goddard required financial backing and a more isolated space to conduct tests. In this article, you will learn who lent a helping hand, as well as where his research would take the world of rocketry.

A Helping Hand

Charles Lindbergh was a pilot known for his heroic actions and advancements in flying the friendly skies. When he heard of Goddard’s research on rocket power, he saw the value of it in the aviation world. In addition to the funds he received from Lindbergh, Goddard also looked for other financial backers. However, this was during the same time as the stock market crash and it was becoming harder and harder to find investors. The Guggenheim family finally came to his aid and guaranteed the scientist funding for four years. To establish a new research center, Goddard and his wife moved to Roswell in New Mexico.

No Military Support

On and off, Goddard worked on his rockets over the next 12 years. By this time, he had a team of technicians to help. They were constantly improving the design of his rockets, which started to look more like the missiles of modern times. The outer casing was long, smooth and was pointed at top. Fins were positioned at the tail of the rocket. The majority of the research work he conducted focused on making the propulsion system better and creating a more stable rocket.

Over the years, Goddard also worked on what would become the bazooka and rocket-propelled grenade. He started to see the value of his creations as a benefit for the military. During the early 1930s, the Guggenheim Foundation and the Smithsonian approached the Army and Navy. Goddard was ready to share his results with them and work alongside the military. However, they snubbed the scientist. This was no surprise , many people (including other scientists) were unwilling to accept Goddard’s theories.

Rocket Milestones

Goddard was working with rockets that measured up to 15 feet long by 1935. One of them was successful in breaking the sound barrier, as it nearly reached an altitude of almost one mile. During the late 1930s, he experimented with larger rockets. However, they were suffering issues with their engines. Goddard went back to using smaller designs. He reached an altitude of nearly 1.7 miles. This marked the highest any of his rockets flew.

While World War II raged on, Goddard continued to enhance rocket propulsion. None of his achievements were ever used by the military at this time. In 1945, Goddard developed throat cancer and passed away a few months later. He never saw his hard work reach the heights that it would in later years. It was 1959 when the first spacecraft (Luna 2) reached the surface of the Moon , a Soviet accomplishment.