Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Who invented the space rocket?

 A few people could claim this, but the man who did more than anyone to put real rockets into space was American pioneer Robert Hutchings Goddard (1882-1945). When he was 16, he climbed a tree and wondered what would happen if he kept going. He spent the rest of his life making that dream come true, though many people thought him crazy. In 1920, the New York Times rid...iculed him on its front page, saying his idea of putting a rocket into space lacked a basic understanding of science. If there was no atmosphere in space for a rocket to push against, how could a rocket move forward? It was the New York Times that didn't understand physics! Sadly, Goddard died in 1945 and never got to see astronauts blasting into space. The day after men landed on the Moon in 1969, the New York Times apologized: "It is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error." Here's Dr Goddard pictured in 1925 next to one of his early experimental rockets (photo courtesy of Great Images in NASA).

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