You are here: Technology > Famous inventors > Robert H. Goddard

Robert H. Goddard

Robert H. Goddard The first liquid-fuel rocket was built by American scientist and inventor Robert Hutchings Goddard (1882–1945) in 1926. Besides the liquid-fuel rocket, he also invented the multi-stage rocket; both technologies were originally designed in 1914). These two inventions were to prove vital steps in the history of space flight. When in 1920, Goddard outlined a scientific proposal for how an unmanned rocket could reach the Moon, he was ridiculed. He is now considered the father of modern rocketry.

Robert H. Goddard and his liquid oxygen-gasoline rocket at Auburn, Massachusetts, March 1926

The first rocket

Goddard constructed and successfully tested the first rocket using liquid fuel on 16th March 16 1926, at Auburn, Massachusetts. Using gasoline and liquid oxygen for fuel, the small rocket, nicknamed "Nell", reached a height of 12.5 metres (41 feet) and landed 56 metres (184 feet) away. His later rockets reached heights of up to 2.16 kilometres (1.6 miles), travelling at speeds of up to 885 km/h (550 mph). One carried the first "payload": a barometer and a camera.

Goddard first became interested in space when he read H.G. Wells' science fiction classic The War of the Worlds at the age of 16. He later recalled a time when, a year later, he climbed a cherry tree and gazed at the sky, wondering how he could build a machine that would take him to Mars.

Q-files now has new sections specially written for younger readers. They are: Living world, Earth, Science, Human body, Prehistoric life, Space, History, Geography and Technology.

Find the answer