Robert H. Goddard, the inventor of the rockets that make spaceflight possible and the namesake of the Goddard Space Flight Center, was born this day in 1882. Goddard was born in Worcester, Massachusetts and grew up reading popular science fiction. He received patents for liquid-fueled and multi-stage rockets by 1914. While working at Clark University he used ballistic pendulua to show rockets worked in a vacuum and could be used to travel through space. Further work on rockets meant moving to New Mexico where the wide open spaces were a better place for testing.
Goddard's early work was ridiculed by the press. He once responded to a reporter's question with, "Every vision is a joke until the first man accomplishes it; once realized, it becomes commonplace."
When Goddard died on August 10, 1945 he held 214 patents involving rockets and rocket propulsion.
Happy Birthday Dr. Goddard. You left the world a more interesting place.