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Goddard, Robert Hutchings

space liquid age clark

(1882–1945) US physicist: pioneered the liquid-fuel rocket.

Goddard was born and educated in Worcester, MA, attending the Polytechnic Institute and Clark University. He held the position of professor of physics at Clark University for most of his life.

Goddard was interested in the practical aspects of space travel from an early age and in 1919 published a classic paper outlining many of the basic ideas of modern rocketry. Unlike some other pioneers of the space age, he was not content merely to test his ideas on paper and in 1926 built and tested a rocket propelled by gasoline and liquid oxygen. In 1929 he established a research station in New Mexico, backed by the Guggenheim Foundation, and soon sent up instrumented rockets, the forerunners of those used for atmospheric research, and developed a gyroscopic guidance system. By 1935 his rockets had broken the sound barrier and demonstrated that they could function in the near-vacuum of space. His pioneering work was not, however, publicly acknowledged by the US Government until 15 years after his death, when it awarded his widow $1 million for its numerous infringements of his 214 patents, incurred during its space and defence programmes.

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