Did you know… Worcester was home to a celebrated pioneer of American rocket science?
Dr. Robert Hutchings Goddard (1882-1945) was born and worked right in Worcester, Massachusetts. Goddard is known for developing and launching the first liquid fuel rocket, changing the future of space travel. NASA published an online article chronicling Goddard’s contributions to rocket propulsion, in which they state that “the flight of Goddard’s rocket on March 16, 1926, at Auburn, Massachusetts, was as significant to history as that of the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk.” The location from which he shot his rocket is now Pakachoag Golf Course.
The article also notes that “Goddard first obtained public notice in 1907 in a cloud of smoke from a powder rocket fired in the basement of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute physics building.” Luckily for Goddard – and the future of American rocketry – school officials recognized the potential of his work, and did not expel him.
Goddard’s entire education was based in Worcester. He graduated from South High Community School, received his B.A. from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and earned his M.A. at Clark University, where he also completed his Ph.D. Goddard died in Baltimore, but was buried in Worcester’s Hope Cemetery.
There is now a crater on the Moon named for him, as well as a shuttlecraft on Star Trek and a drink (“Rocket”) from Worcester’s Wormtown Brewery. Clark University’s main library is also bears Goddard’s name.
Holy Cross students who recently attended Dr. Scott Parazynski’s lecture on his experience as a NASA astronaut or are dreaming of booking a flight on Virgin Galactic’s commercial space tours have a fellow Worcester resident to thank for his contributions to space travel as we know it!
“It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of yesterday and the reality of tomorrow.”
– Dr. Robert Hutchings Goddard
For more information, check out https://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/about/history/dr_goddard.html.
“Dr. Robert H. Goddard, American Rocketry Pioneer.” National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA, 08/03/2017. <<https://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/about/history/dr_goddard.html>>
“Robert H. Goddard.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. <<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_H._Goddard>>