Dr. Robert Hutchings Goddardwas 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 hisfirst 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.
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.
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.
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.