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Rocketing Into History

Apollo 11 launches on its way to the moon in 1969 (NASA photo)

After reading Orson Welles’ science fiction novel “War of the Worlds” he became fascinated with the idea of space travel.  When he was a college physics student he began building rockets powered by gunpowder and eventually as a college professor he mathematically proved it could be possible for rockets to travel in the vacuum of space. 

In 1919, he published a book of his theories on space travel and even proposed the possibility of launching a rocket to the moon – a theory that was ridiculed in the New York Times.  50 years after that editorial, the Times printed a retraction on the eve of the first Apollo manned mission to the moon.

The man’s name was Robert Goddard and it was today in 1926, Goddard successfully launched the world’s first liquid-fueled rocket in Auburn, Massachusetts.  It was a10-foot tall rocket that traveled two and a half seconds at a speed of about 60 miles an hour reaching an altitude of 41 feet and landing 184 feet away.  Not very impressive, but that rocket was enough to prove it could work and the world was on its way into space.

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