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Preludes to U.S. Space-Launch Vehicle TechnologyGoddard Rockets to Minuteman III$
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J.D Hunley

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780813031774

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813031774.001.0001

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The Beginnings: Goddard and Oberth, 1926–1945

The Beginnings: Goddard and Oberth, 1926–1945

(p.10) 1 The Beginnings: Goddard and Oberth, 1926–1945
Preludes to U.S. Space-Launch Vehicle Technology

J. D. Hunley

University Press of Florida

This chapter introduces the two rocket pioneers who had the greatest influence on American missiles and launch vehicles: the American physicist and rocket experimenter Robert H. Goddard and the Romanian-German rocket theorist, Hermann Oberth. Both were fascinating characters with highly inventive minds. Although Goddard's innovations foreshadowed many later rocket technologies, his failure to publish many details of his research and development during his lifetime limited his influence. Oberth published his more theoretical conceptions in greater detail and had real influence on Wernher von Braun and other Germans who developed the V-2 missile before and during World War II and then moved to the United States. Through them, Oberth arguably had greater influence on U.S. missile and launch-vehicle development than did Goddard. But it can also be argued that they had a synergistic effect, with Goddard providing an example of how to develop rockets, at least to a point, while Oberth provided more theoretical details about rocket development in sources that he published early enough for them to be consulted by early rocket developers.

Keywords:   Robert H. Goddard, Hermann Oberth, rocket technology, rocket development, American missiles, launch vehicles

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