Rocket Science Revealed

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However, the payload never properly separated from the rocket, and due to the extra mass, the combined spacecraft and rocket failed to reach orbit. This Glory satellite would have measured the properties of sulfate and other aerosols in the atmosphere. Again, the payload failed to properly separate from the rocket, and it was a total loss. In the years since, the space agency's Launch Services Program and the rocket's manufacturer, Orbital Sciences—which has since been acquired by Northrop Grumman—have been conducting investigations into what happened.

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Shortly after the launches, it was clear the payload fairing had failed to separate from the two rockets. And in , the company that supplied aluminum extrusions for the four-stage, solid-rocket Taurus XL booster, Sapa Profiles Inc.

He suffered from stomach problems, pleurisy, colds, and bronchitis, and he fell two years behind his classmates. He became a voracious reader, regularly visiting the local public library to borrow books on the physical sciences.

Goddard's interest in aerodynamics led him to study some of Samuel Langley 's scientific papers in the periodical Smithsonian. In these papers, Langley wrote that birds flap their wings with different force on each side to turn in the air. Inspired by these articles, the teenage Goddard watched swallows and chimney swifts from the porch of his home, noting how subtly the birds moved their wings to control their flight.

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He noted how remarkably the birds controlled their flight with their tail feathers, which he called the birds' equivalent of ailerons. He took exception to some of Langley's conclusions and in wrote a letter to St. Nicholas magazine [19] : 5 with his own ideas.

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The editor of St. Nicholas declined to publish Goddard's letter, remarking that birds fly with a certain amount of intelligence and that "machines will not act with such intelligence. He wrote later about his own tests of the Law:. I began to realize that there might be something after all to Newton's Laws. The Third Law was accordingly tested, both with devices suspended by rubber bands and by devices on floats, in the little brook back of the barn, and the said law was verified conclusively.

It made me realize that if a way to navigate space were to be discovered, or invented, it would be the result of a knowledge of physics and mathematics. As his health improved, Goddard continued his formal schooling as a year-old sophomore at South High Community School [22] in Worcester in He excelled in his coursework, and his peers twice elected him class president.

Making up for lost time, he studied books on mathematics, astronomy, mechanics and composition from the school library. In his speech, entitled "On Taking Things for Granted", Goddard included a section that would become emblematic of his life:. Each must remember that no one can predict to what heights of wealth, fame, or usefulness he may rise until he has honestly endeavored, and he should derive courage from the fact that all sciences have been, at some time, in the same condition as he, and that it has often proved true that the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.

Goddard enrolled at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Wilmer Duff, with his thirst for knowledge, and Duff took him on as a laboratory assistant and tutor. Eventually, she and Goddard were engaged, but they drifted apart and ended the engagement around Goddard received his B. He spent another year at Clark as an honorary fellow in physics, and in he accepted a research fellowship at Princeton University 's Palmer Physical Laboratory.

The high school student summed up his ideas on space travel in a proposed article, "The Navigation of Space," which he submitted to the Popular Science News. The journal's editor returned it, saying that they could not use it "in the near future. While still an undergraduate, Goddard wrote a paper proposing a method for balancing airplanes using gyro-stabilization.

He submitted the idea to Scientific American , which published the paper in Goddard later wrote in his diaries that he believed his paper was the first proposal of a way to automatically stabilize aircraft in flight. While studying physics at WPI, ideas came to Goddard's mind that sometimes seemed impossible, but he was compelled to record them for future investigation.

He wrote that "there was something inside which simply would not stop working. After experimenting with solid fuel rockets he was convinced by that chemical-propellant engines were the answer. His first writing on the possibility of a liquid-fueled rocket came on February 2, Goddard had begun to study ways of increasing a rocket's efficiency using methods differing from conventional solid-fuel rockets. He wrote in his notebook about using liquid hydrogen as a fuel with liquid oxygen as the oxidizer.

He believed that 50 percent efficiency could be achieved with these liquid propellants i. In the decades around , radio was a new technology, fertile for innovation.


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In , while working at Princeton University, Goddard investigated the effects of radio waves on insulators. His patent on this tube, which predated that of Lee De Forest , became central in the suit between Arthur A. Goddard accepted only a consultant's fee from Collins when the suit was dropped. Eventually the two big companies allowed the country's growing electronics industry to use the De Forest patents freely.

By he had in his spare time, using calculus, developed the mathematics which allowed him to calculate the position and velocity of a rocket in vertical flight, given the weight of the rocket and weight of the propellant and the velocity with respect to the rocket frame of the exhaust gases. In effect he had independently developed the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation published a decade earlier in Russia.

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For vertical flight he included the effects of gravity and aerodynamic drag. His first goal was to build a sounding rocket with which to study the atmosphere. Not only would such investigation aid meteorology, but it was necessary to determine temperature, density and wind speed in order to design efficient space launch vehicles. He was very reluctant to admit that his ultimate goal was in fact to develop a vehicle for flights into space, since most scientists, especially in the United States, did not consider such a goal to be a realistic or practical scientific pursuit, nor was the public yet ready to seriously consider such ideas.

Later, in , Goddard said that "[I]n no case must we allow ourselves to be deterred from the achievement of space travel, test by test and step by step, until one day we succeed, cost what it may. In early , Goddard became seriously ill with tuberculosis and had to leave his position at Princeton. He then returned to Worcester, where he began a prolonged process of recovery at home.

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His doctors did not expect him to live. He decided he should spend time outside in the fresh air and walk for exercise, and he gradually improved. It was during this period of recuperation, however, that Goddard began to produce some of his most important work. As his symptoms subsided, he allowed himself to work an hour per day with his notes made at Princeton. He was afraid that nobody would be able to read his scribbling should he succumb.

In the technological and manufacturing atmosphere of Worcester, patents were considered essential, not only to protect original work but as documentation of first discovery. He began to see the importance of his ideas as intellectual property, and thus began to secure those ideas before someone else did—and he would have to pay to use them. In May , he wrote descriptions concerning his first rocket patent applications.

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His father brought them to a patent lawyer in Worcester who helped him to refine his ideas for consideration. Goddard's first patent application was submitted in October In , his first two landmark patents were accepted and registered.


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  8. The first, U. Patent 1,, , described a multi-stage rocket fueled with a solid "explosive material. Patent 1,, , described a rocket fueled with a solid fuel explosive material or with liquid propellants gasoline and liquid nitrous oxide. The two patents would eventually become important milestones in the history of rocketry. In the fall of , Goddard's health had improved, and he accepted a part-time position as an instructor and research fellow at Clark University. He ordered numerous supplies that could be used to build rocket prototypes for launch and spent much of in preparation for his first tests.

    Goddard's first test launch of a powder rocket came on an early evening in following his daytime classes at Clark. After this incident, Goddard took his experiments inside the physics lab, in order to limit any disturbance. At the Clark physics lab, Goddard conducted static tests of powder rockets to measure their thrust and efficiency.

    He found his earlier estimates to be verified; powder rockets were converting only about two percent of the thermal energy in their fuel into thrust and kinetic energy. At this point he applied de Laval nozzles , which were generally used with steam turbine engines, and these greatly improved efficiency. Of the several definitions of rocket efficiency, Goddard measured in his laboratory what is today called the internal efficiency of the engine: the ratio of the kinetic energy of the exhaust gases to the available thermal energy of combustion, expressed as a percentage.

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