The father of liquid propellant
“It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.”
If you think hydrogen is new to us, visit the Smithsonian Institute. There you will find Robert Goddard’s thesis, “A method of reaching extreme altitude.” Mr. Goddard is believed to be the father of liquid propellant rocketry, rockets that currently use hydrogen and oxygen.
All attempts at rocketry before Goddard’s design had been with black powder. Goddard’s premise was that if you primed a rocket with fuel that was powerful enough, you could reach outer space. Goddard believed one would need a liquid-like hydrogen, mixed with liquid oxygen to generate the combustion needed in an airless environment such as space.
Goddard was known for tinkering and creating. In 1918, the U.S. Army used bazookas equipped with hydrogen that Goddard had designed. He constructed and tested many rockets using liquid fuel. The most famous test was in 1926 when Goddard launched a prototype rocket named “Nell”. Numerous newspapers ridiculed him. The Worcester Massachusetts, a paper titled their article, “Moon rocket misses the target by 238,799 1/2 miles.” The New York Times ridiculed Goddard’s thesis saying, “Goddard does not know the relation of action and reaction.” But not all were so harsh in their criticism. Charles Lindbergh watched and encouraged the Guggenheim Foundation to help finance Goddard’s future. The Germans also watched and used some of Goddard’s patents, which were open to inspection at the time, to build the V-2 ballistic missile that was used in WWII.
On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11, riding on Von Buren’s Saturn Vb “Moon Rocket” used hydrogen to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center to go to the moon. On July 17, 1969, 24 years after Goddard’s death, three days before Neil Armstrong took one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind, the New York Times wrote a public apology to Goddard, for ridiculing him in 1926, saying in part, “Further investigation and experimentation have confirmed the findings of Isaac Newton in the 17th century and it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error.”The New York Times was not the only institution to finally recognize Goddard. On September 16, 1959, the 86th Congress issued a gold medal in honor of Professor Robert G. Goddard. In 1959, the United States honored the scientist by building a space center in Greenbelt, Maryland, near Washington, D.C. It was dedicated it as the Goddard Space Flight Center.
Goddard’s design allowed NASA to put astronauts on the moon. It has also allowed us to see hydrogen as a viable option as an alternative to fuel.
In a speech given, 35 years after Apollo CSM lifted off to the moon, to the International Motor Press Association (IMPA) in New York, Gerhard Schmidt, Ford Vice President, Research and Advanced Engineering stated, “As we move ahead, powering vehicles by hydrogen is the ultimate long-term course.”
Air Products, the same company that has been supplying hydrogen to NASA for their rockets, is a leader in supplying hydrogen to fuel vehicles for the prototype demonstrations around the world.
According to Dave Guro, Product Manager, Future Engineers, Air Products, “Hydrogen, the simplest of all the elements, plays a significant part in meeting the needs of our planet today and tomorrow. Right now, oil refiners throughout the world use our hydrogen to reduce sulfur content and make gasoline and diesel fuels cleaner.”
“Why is that important?
Currently, sulfur levels in fuel limit the ability of catalytic converters to convert NOx, hydrocarbons, and carbon monoxide into less harmful gasses. So reducing gasoline and diesel fuel sulfur is crucial to lowering air pollution from vehicles. This reduction means improved human health, less acid rain, reduced haze, and less corrosion.” Tomorrow, we are getting closer to using hydrogen to fuel our vehicles. Hydrogen fuel cells are efficient and more environmentally friendly than traditional fossil fuels. Air Products is involved with more than 20 hydrogen fueling and demonstration projects worldwide, including locations in Las Vegas, Nevada for the Department of Energy; a station for the EPA, Daimler Chrysler, and UPS in Ann Arbor, Michigan; and the first pilot hydrogen fueling station in Singapore.”
“Explore NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Beyond!” at the Goddard Community Day on Saturday, July 31st, 2004 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
New York Times;
“*July 17, 1969. An editorial-page feature of The New York Times dismissed the notion that a rocket could function in a vacuum and commented on the ideas of Robert H. Goddard, the rocket pioneer, as follows:
“That Professor Goddard, with his “chair” in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution, does not know the relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react — to say that would be absurd. Of course, he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.”
“Further investigation and experimentation have confirmed the findings of Isaac Newton in the 17th century and it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error.”