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Robert Goddard Launches The First Liquid-Fueled Rocket

 Dr. Robert H. Goddard and a liquid oxygen-gasoline rocket at Auburn, Massachusetts.

On 16 March 1926, Robert H. Goddard launched the first liquid-fueled rocket.

A liquid rocket used liquid propellants. This allows the volume of the tanks low. The pressure of the tank can also be low because the liquids are pumped into the combustion chamber. This also means that the propellant tanks can be lighter. 

Both reasons combined result in lighter and more powerful rockets.

Goddard was both a theorist and engineer. His inventions and experimentations paved the way for rockets technology that made spaceflight possible.

First Liquid-Fueled Rocket

The rocket that was launched from Auburn, Massachusetts was dubbed Nell. It rose 41 feet and flew for 2.5 seconds before crashing into a cabbage field.

This seemingly insignificant flight proved the theories that Goddard came up with 15 years earlier about the possibility of liquid-fueled rockets.

In total, Goddard and his team launched a total of 34 rockets. The highest reached 2.6 km in altitude and achieved a speed of 885 km/h.

Goddard was a very productive researcher and held a total of 214 patents to his name. Two of those proved instrumental: that for a multi-stage rocket (1914) and a liquid-fuel rocket (1914). 

Spaceflight as his life's purpose

He single mindly dedicated his life to the pursuit of the spaceflight. Here is how he stumbled onto that mission when he was 17:

On this day I climbed a tall cherry tree at the back of the barn … and as I looked toward the fields at the east, I imagined how wonderful it would be to make some device which had even the possibility of ascending to Mars, and how it would look on a small scale, if sent up from the meadow at my feet. I have several photographs of the tree, taken since, with the little ladder I made to climb it, leaning against it.
It seemed to me then that a weight whirling around a horizontal shaft, moving more rapidly above than below, could furnish lift by virtue of the greater centrifugal force at the top of the path.
I was a different boy when I descended the tree from when I ascended. Existence at last seemed very purposive.

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