Dr. Robert Hutchings Goddard, Herbert George Wells

Dr. Robert Hutchings Goddard – The Founder Of Rocketry

Dr. Robert Goddard with a rocket in his workshop at Roswell, New Mexico, in October 1935. (Credit NASA Goddard Flight Center).

Dr. Robert Hutchings Goddard was born on October 5, 1882, in Worcester, Massachusetts and was the only surviving child of his parents Fannie Louise Hoyt and Nahum Danford Goddard. Robert Hutchings Goddard was interested in science-fiction as a child, and developed an interest in outer space after reading Herbert George Wells’s novel, “The War of the Worlds.”

In 1915, Robert Hutchings Goddard launched his first powered rocket at Clark University. In 1917, Goddard was awarded $5,000 from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C to develop a rocket that could go into the upper atmosphere. During his time developing that rocket he utilized the laboratory at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Dr. Robert Hutchings Goddard, Greenbelt, Maryland, NASA, National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, U.S. Senator John Glenn Beall, Junior

The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

In August of 1958, U.S. Senator John Glenn Beall, Junior announced that the federal government would establish a “Space Projects Center” in Greenbelt, Maryland. The center site was part of the Department of Agriculture’s Beltsville Agricultural Research Center.

U.S. Senator John Glenn Beall, Junior after he won an election.

Months later, after the passage of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, the Naval Research Laboratory’s Project Vanguard was legally transferred to the “Beltsville Space Center,” though it remained at the Naval Research Laboratory facilities until the completion of the new center.

Dr. Robert Hutchings Goddard with a liquid rocket.

In May of 1959, NASA formally announced that the new facility would be called Goddard Space Flight Center, after Dr. Robert Hutchings Goddard. Robert Goddard, whom is widely considered the father of modern rocketry, theorized that rockets would work in a vacuum, and thus could potentially be used to send payloads into space. On March 16, 1961, the 35th anniversary of Goddard’s first liquid-propellant rocket launch Goddard Space Flight Center was officially dedicated.

Researchers prepare Explorer XX, the Topside Sounder IE-A, for launch. The satellite was put into orbit on 25 August 1964. (Credit NASA Goddard Space Center).

The NASA Goddard Visitor Center has various exhibits for visitors to see.

Ariel view of NASA’s Goddard Visitor Center. (Credit NASA Goddard Flight Center).

Author’s Note:

Dan Hamilton, the father of author Philip Hamilton, worked at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from 1991 to 2018.