Robert H. Goddard, born October 5, 1882, was the first to build and test the world’s first liquid-fuel rocket in 1926. He is considered the father of modern rocketry through this development and his success in the rocket he built.
From a very young age, he was interested in science and, more specifically, space after he read, “The War of the Worlds”, a science fiction novel written by H. G. Wells. His first attempt at rocketry was in 1907, where he tried to fire a powder rocket from the basement of the physics building, as a student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. In 1908, he received his Bachelor of Science, and went on to attain his master’s and doctorate in physics from Clark University. He later joined Palmer Physical Laboratory at Princeton University in 1912 and later served as a part time instructor at Clark University. His early life was what sparked his curiosity and interest in space, and therefore, lead to his innovative ways and achievements, contributing a whole factor towards modern rocketry.
Initially, Goddard began his own study and experiment of rockets at his own expense. He began with gunpowder as the fuel for his first rockets, however, he realised how inefficient they were due to only 2% of the energy from powdered rockets being converted into motion of the rocket, the remainder being converted mainly into sound and heat, with respect to the law of conservation of energy. Goddard turned his attention more towards the components that made up his rockets. He replaced the nozzle of his rocket, which was first narrowed down, then expanded, taking the idea from Gustav De Laval, thus allowing a more efficient conversion of heat to motion, up to 63% more efficiency.
In 1917, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. supported his development of a rocket to probe the upper atmosphere with a grant of $5,000. Clark University also supported him through financial terms and also gave him permission to use their laboratory for his rocket experiments at their university, and also Worcester Polytechnic