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Liquid-Fueled Rocket Is 75 Years Old

Liquid-Fueled Rocket Is 75 Years Old

Goddard Space Flight Center, Maryland -- March 13, 2001 (AFPN) -- The roar of Discovery's main engines March 8 not only marked astronauts once again venturing into space but also trumpeted a salute to the man whose vision made such a journey possible.

Dr. Robert H. Goddard with his first rocket in 1926. March 16 marks the 75th anniversary of Goddard's first launch of a liquid-fueled rocket.

Photo courtesy of NASA

Seventy-five years ago, March 16, 1926, Dr. Robert H. Goddard successfully launched the first liquid-fueled rocket. Milton Lehman's book about the life of Robert Goddard, "This High Man," notes that his flight of the first liquid-fueled rocket has been called "a feat as epochal in history as that of the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk."

"That flight became the underpinning of everything that we are able to do in space today, and which we take for granted," said William Townsend, deputy director of the NASA facility named after the rocket pioneer, the Goddard Space Flight Center. "Doctor Goddard was a true visionary, having already visualized flight in outer space by the time he was 21 (in 1903). He was also persistent, since it took him until 1926 to achieve the monumental accomplishment embodied in that first flight some 75 years ago."

Dr. Robert H. Goddard in the shop checking fuel pumps. March 16 marks the 75th anniversary of Goddard's first launch of a liquid-fueled rocket.

Photo courtesy of NASA

"Many people date the beginning of the space age from the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957," said Chief Historian Dr. Roger Launius at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "One could also say that it really began when Robert Goddard successfully launched the first liquid-fueled rocket. Liquid-fueled rockets are what makes it possible to reach the high frontier of space, and Goddard recognized before virtually anyone else that developing that technology was critical to exploring (space)."

Goddard's 10-foot long rocket used gasoline and liquid oxygen for its flight. While his creation weighed only 10 1/2 pounds, including fuel, and flew just over 40 feet in altitude, it utilized the same basic technology that would later allow the 6-million-pound Saturn V rocket to carry men 239,000 miles to the moon.

Besides the space shuttle, most unmanned rockets that deliver spacecraft and satellites to Earth's orbit or to the paths of their interplanetary expeditions use a liquid propulsion system.

The successful use of a liquid-fuel propulsion system was one of Goddard's many significant achievements. During his lifetime, he designed, built and launched 35 rockets of increasing sophistication.

Goddard improved his sounding rockets' designs, developing turbo-pump systems; gyro-stabilization; aerodynamic and jet-deflector flight controls; automatic sequencing launch systems; flight trajectory tracking and recording devices; gimbal-mounted clustered rocket motors; and parachute recovery systems.

"Today the Goddard Space Flight Center continues to be driven in its pursuit of excellence by the inspiration of Doctor Goddard, perhaps best represented by Doctor Goddard's famous words, 'The dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.' The women and men here at Goddard are proud to be bringing reality to his vision of exploration and discovery," Townsend said. (Courtesy of NASA News Service)

Related Links:

- 75th Anniversary of the 1st Liquid Fueled Rocket Launch


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).