How many more years I shall be able to work on the problem, I do not know; I hope, as long as I live. There can be no thought of finishing, for “aiming at the stars”, both literally and figuratively, is a problem to occupy generations, so that no matter how much progress one makes, there is always the thrill of just beginning.
Robert Goddard to H.G. Wells, 1932
A very humble beginning to the Space Age 91 years ago, courtesy of Doctor Robert Goddard:
March 17, 1926. The first flight with a rocket using liquid propellants was made yesterday at Aunt Effie’s farm in Auburn…. Even though the release was pulled, the rocket did not rise at first, but the flame came out, and there was a steady roar. After a number of seconds it rose, slowly until it cleared the frame, and then at express train speed, curving over to the left, and striking the ice and snow, still going at a rapid rate.
Goddard would launch 34 more rockets between 1926 and 1941 with public attention growing as he pioneered the first steps of man beyond our planet. Goddard died in 1945 and lived long enough to examine Nazi V-2s, he having offered his services, patents and research to the government during World War II. In graduating from high school in 1904 Goddard gave an oration which contained a sentence which would sum up his life:
It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.