Robert H. Goddard was a scientist, and a U.S. professor of physics. As a child he had many problems with disease. On March 16, 1926, he became the first person in the world to build and launch a liquid-fueled rocket. From 1930 to 1935 Goddard launched rockets that attained speeds of up to 885 km/h (550 mph). Though his work in the field was revolutionary, he was sometimes ridiculed for his theories about space flight.
As a child, Goddard was a thin and frail boy who was almost always in fragile health with colds, stomach problems and bronchitis he fell two years behind his classmates. While sick Goddard became a voracious reader, with regular visits to the local public library to borrow ...view middle of the document...
Shortly after he began his graduate studies at Clark University in Worcester in the fall of 1909. Goddard received his M.A. degree in physics from Clark University in 1910 where he stayed to complete his Ph.D. degree in physics in 1911. Goddard then spent another year at Clark as an honorary fellow in physics before accepting to be a research fellowship at Princeton University's Palmer Physical Laboratory.
In and around 1910, radio was a new technology, and in 1911 while working at Clark University, Goddard investigated the effects of radio waves on insulators and to generate radio-frequency power. Due to the investigation he invented a vacuum tube that operated like a cathode-ray tube which is a vacuum tube containing an electron gun (a source of electrons) and a fluorescent screen, with internal and or external means to accelerate and deflect an electron beam. When the U.S. Patent 1,159,209 was issued on November 2, 1915, the first vacuum tube was used to amplify a signal, preceding even Lee de Forest's, a famous American, Inventor claim.
By 1913 Goddard had in his spare time started using calculus and developed the mathematics which allowed him to calculate the very place and velocity a rocket would attain in vertical flight, given which the weight of the rocket, the weight of the propellant and the velocity of the exhaust gases. His first goal was to build a sounding rocket which he could use to study the atmosphere. Goddard was afraid though to admit that his real goal was space flight, since scientists, in America especially, did not consider such a pursuit to be real science. Even the public was not ready to seriously accept it the idea of rockets in space.
Goddard's early work wasn’t always geared towards space travel. As the U.S. entered World War I in 1917; the university where Goddard worked began to lend their services to the war effort. Goddard believed his research on rockets could be applied to many military applications, including mobile artillery and naval torpedoes. Although he made proposals to the Navy and Army no record exists of the Navy having any interest to Goddard's inquiry. However, Army Ordnance was very interested in his proposal and even met with Goddard several times.
During this time, Goddard was also contacted by a civilian industrialist in Worcester about the possibility of creating rockets for the military. But, as the businessman's enthusiasm grew more and more, so did Goddard's suspicion. Talk eventually broke out as Goddard began to fear his work might be appropriated by the business.