Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy birthday to the rocket!

No, not that Rocket.
Or that Rocket.
Or that Rocket.
THE rocket.

Today is the 94th anniversary of United States Patent #1,103,503, the one in which Robert Goddard described a rocket casing filled with liquid fuel which, when ignited, would provide constant combustion.
With Goddard's vision of liquid propellant, mankind finally had a decent shot at leaving Earth's atmosphere.

A little background on Goddard:

On October 19, 1899, Robert Goddard, 17, experienced a mystical vision of spaceflight.
He saw a rocketship blasting away from Earth toward the Moon.
It had a pointed nose, three stabilizing fins, and two liquid fuel pods strapped to its sides. As it blasted away, a trail of thick black smoke was left in the sky.
For years, the vision fascinated Goddard. He would forever refer to October 19th as "Anniversary Day."
When Goddard was a child, he had pulmonary tuberculosis. He missed so much school that he did not graduate high school until age 21. But he read all the time, especially H.G. Wells, and The War of the Worlds sparked a lifelong interest in rocketry.
Goddard eventually got a Master's Degree in Physics.
On July 7th, 1914, he received his first patent, #1,102,653, which identified the concept of the multistaging of rockets, without which it is impossible to reach anything but low-Earth orbit.
One week later, he received 1,103,503, and the foundation of modern rocket design was established.

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