Sunday, March 16, 2014

Robert H. Goddard ~ Via Cherry Tree To Mars

On the afternoon of October 19, 1899, I climbed a tall cherry tree at the back of [my uncle’s] barn and, armed with a saw and hatchet, started to trim the dead limbs from the tree. It was one of those quiet, colorful afternoons of sheer beauty which we have in October in New England and, as I looked toward the fields to 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 was a different boy when I descended the ladder. Life now had a purpose for me. ~ Robert H. Goddard

“It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.” ~ Robert H. Goddard US physicist & pioneer rocket engineer (1882 - 1945)

Robert H. Goddard had just turned seventeen some two weeks before that lazy afternoon on that exquisite New England autumn and when he climbed down from that cherry tree he henceforth dedicated his life to one purpose, the creation of some device that would one day take people to the planet Mars.

Some twenty seven years later on March 16th, 1926, a date just as significant to the history of astronautics as December 17th, 1903 (when the Wright brothers took to the air in the first heavier than air flying machine) is important in the history of aeronautics, Robert H. Goddard created that device when he launched the world’s first liquid fueled rocket.  This rocket, which was dubbed "Nell," rose just 41 feet (12.5 meters) during a 2.5-second flight that ended up in a cabbage field on his aunt’s farm. Yet, that first flight was a small technical step and giant technological leap that would one day take men to the Moon and eventually, sometime in this century, take humans to Mars.

Robert H. Goddard, bundled against the cold New England weather of March 16, 1926, holds the launching frame of his most notable invention — the first liquid rocket.
Robert H. Goddard with one of his rocket's (Hand Tinted Photograph)

Today on Far Future Horizons, we commemorate the eighty-eighth anniversary of the launching of the world’s first liquid fueled rocket by presenting two special video features: the biographical documentary “The Dream That Wouldn't Down” and the fifth episode of Carl Sagan’s acclaimed documentary series Cosmos – “Blues for a Red Planet."

Carl Sagan with a mock up of the Viking Mars Lander

Carl Sagan devoted an entire chapter regarding Goddard titled “Via Cherry Tree, to Mars" in Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science published in 1979.

Carl Sagan's COSMOS – Blues for a Red Planet

The Dream That Wouldn't Down: Dr. Robert Goddard
Copyright Disclaimer
Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

No comments:

Post a Comment