Essay by PaperNerd ContributorUniversity, Bachelor's November 2001

download word file, 2 pages 3.0

For hundreds of years the rocket never had a more important task than to signal, use as a weapon, and of course, fireworks. These "fire arrows", as the Chinese called them, didn't really get any serious attention until the twentieth century, when scientists started to study the way rockets worked. In 1926, Robert Goddard launched the first successful liquid rocket which he designed and built himself. It flew 184 ft. in 2 and a half seconds. Even though Goddard was successful, he refused to join any groups or organizations, in fear that others might copy his work. Goddard was never able to reach his goal of using rockets to research the upper atmosphere because of lack of funds and publicity. In 1945 the Jet Propulsion Laboratory picked up where Goddard left off and launched a rocket specifically for upper atmospheric research. This rocket, named the WAC-Corporal reached a height of 43 miles.

Even though Goddard, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and many other scientists worked hard, they didn't really have anything to do with the U.S. space program.

        The ones actually responsible were a group of German scientists. At the end of WWII, the U.S. took a bunch of German V-2 rockets. And along with the rockets they captured the scientists. These rockets gathered enormous amounts of information about the atmosphere by the time the last one was launched in 1952. This information would prove to be extremely valuable for the coming space age. Scientists now wanted to make smaller rockets that were cheaper and easier to assemble. While the Applied Physics Laboratory worked on the Aerobee rocket, the Naval Research Laboratory was working on a large rocket called the Viking. The Viking was basically a replacement for the V-2. It was the most efficiently designed rocket of its time, but...