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Moon Rocket

Robert Goddard's early musings about building a rocket large enough to reach the moon were met with considerable skepticism. "Well, Robert," colleagues sarcastically asked when his missiles fizzled, "how goes your moongoing rocket?"

Even after his first moderate success (a liquid-fueled rocket named Nell which flew 184 feet in March 1926), many skeptics remained unconvinced. Indeed, when Goddard launched an 11-foot missile one day in 1929, the local paper covered the story beneath a cynical headline: MOON ROCKET MISSES TARGET BY 238,799 1/2 MILES.

[In 1930, with the promise of a $100,000 grant from financier Harry Guggenheim, Goddard and his wife Esther moved to Roswell, New Mexico (home to Area 51), where the land was vast, the skies clear -- and where the locals, they were told, minded their business.]

[On October 19th, 1899, Goddard, who was 17 at the time, climbed a cherry tree in his backyard and experienced what he later called an epiphany. Looking at the stars, he "imagined how wonderful it would be to make some device which had even the possibility of ascending to Mars." In his diary he wrote, "...when I descended the tree... existence at last seemed very purposive." Goddard later called October 19th his "Anniversary Day," the day he first decided to build spaceships.]

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