Archives and Special Collections

Dr. Goddard's Diary Entry from March 16, 1926

This is what Dr. Goddard wrote in his diary for March 16, 1926; the day he launched the first liquid-fueled rocket.

first page of diary

"Went to Auburn with S[achs] in am. E[sther] and Mr. Roope came out at 1 pm. Tried rocket at 2:30. It rose 41 ft, & went 184 ft, in 2.5 secs, after the lower half of nozzle had burned off."

second page of diary

"The first flight with a rocket using liquid propellants was made yesterday at Aunt Effie's farm in Auburn. The day was clear and comparatively quiet. The anemometer on the Physics lab was turning leisurely when Mr. Sachs and I left in the morning, and was turning as leisurely when we returned at 5:30 pm. Even though the release was pulled, the rocket did not rise at first, but the flame came out, and there was a steady roar. After a number of seconds it rose, slowly until it cleared the frame, and then at express train speed, curving over to the left, and striking the ice and snow, still going at a rapid rate. It looked almost magical as it rose, without any appreciably greater noise or flame, as if it said 'I've been here long enough; I think I'll be going somewhere else, if you don't mind.' Esther said that it looked like a fairy or an aesthetic dancer, as it started off. The sky was clear, for the most part, with large shadowy white clouds, but late in the afternoon there was a large pink cloud in the west, over which the sun shone. One of the surprising (the rest of this sentence is from the next image) things was the absence of smoke, the lack of very loud roar, and the smallness of the flame."

third page diary