Robert Hutchings Goddard, American physicist and inventor, c 1930s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Robert Hutchings Goddard (1882-1945) came to be known as the father of modern scientific rocket propulsion and he laid the foundations for the development of long range rockets, misiles, satellites and spaceflights. He was the first to use liquid propellants as rocket fuel and succesfully launched a liquid-fuelled rocket from Auburn in Masachusetts, USA, on 16 March 1926. By 1935, his rockets were exceeding the speed of sound. His pioneering work led directly to NASA and the US space programme.