Robert Goddard died a week before the Americans started testing the German V-2 rockets in August 1945. He was neither famous nor admired by the population in general, still he was ahead of any other rocket specialist in the world and he had worked with rockets his whole life. He had carried out his experiments with out raising much interests in what this "mad moon professor" was working with.
Dr Goddard was laughed at by both newspaper and professionals in his home country America and the defense department refused to listen to him and to study his work. But the German scientists studied his work intensely and they understood the importance of it all. So it became the Germans who became the first to build a working rockets through studying Professor Goddard’s drawings and papers. The Idea to shoot an artificial "moon" into space was also Goddard’s and it was the Russians who became the first to do it.
Robert Goddard caught tuberculosis as a young boy and had to take it easy as a result of this. He spent a lot of his time reading and was particularly taken by the works of Jules Verne’s and his strange vehicles exploring both the world under the sea and space. Why could this not be a reality was what Robert Goddard thought and he started experimenting with gas filled balloons at the age of 15.
The balloons was earth bound unfortunately so Goddard started working with rocket ideas and 32 years old he took out two patents that would be of the greatest importance to anyone who later was to work with space technology.
In 1919 Goddard published a paper showing how one with multi stage rockets would be able to reach the moon. His work was met by a storm of protests. How could a well educated man come forward with such nonsense. He must be completely mad.
But Dr Goddard kept on working and his first rocket launch took place on March 16th, 1926, it reached only a height of 67 meter and the flight lasted only 2,5 seconds. The event made the neighbors complain because of the noise and Goddard moved to New Mexico and in 1935 he launched a rocket that reached 2285 meter and which had a speed of 1100 km ph.
Luckily Goddard got his recognition at last when the American defense department contacted him in 1941, and he left behind him more than 200 patents, most of them still untested and still only dreams for the future. To day Robert Goddard is regarded as the first space pioneer.
From the Norwegian magazine "Illustrert" – No5, January 31st, 1962