New York Times Goddard Editorial

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al...@pooh.physics.lsa.umich.edu

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Jun 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/11/96
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While archiving this last week in Washington again, I found a
fascinating document I had frequently seen references to, but had
never read. Since "The Artist's Friendly Legal Guide" tells me
that the copyright on this document expired 20 years ago, I'll
post it here for rocket lovers around the world.

Just a little background: The Smithsonian Institution published
Robert Goddard's "On a Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes" early
in 1920. At the time, he was not yet building liquid-fuelled
rockets. One of the rockets he had invented was a "multiple-
charge" rocket, in which successive propellant grains were shot
into the combustion chamber in flight. The idea was that the
heavy combustion chamber would not have to be large enough to hold
all the propellant at once. The next year, Goddard would dig into
liquid propellants. Only after the British invention of the
center-star propellant grain and Jack Parson's invention of
composite propellants would the Solid be used for space travel, as
Goddard had proposed.

If the multiple charge-rocket sounds a lot like "Project Orion"
(in which a starship would be propelled by a series of nuclear
explosions), I should point out that this scheme involved rocket
grains in a combustion chamber, rather than, if I may risk using
the word, detonations. You might think of the multiple-charge
rocket as the predecessor to the pulse-jet, which Goddard patented
around 1930. However, the good Professor did suggest the idea of
setting off explosives behind a reflector or shield in his notes
in the 1930's (maybe I should have copied that?). I believe that
is the essence of the Orion scheme.

In his Smithsonian monograph, Goddard calculated the size of
rocket needed to send a pound to the moon he then extrapolated how
much flash powder might be visible on the moon, from tests over a
couple miles on earth. He calculated a rocket of tens of tons (I
don't have the figures in front of me) could theoretically send it
to the moon.

Anyway, all you Goddard fans should enjoy this enlightened bit of
writing.


*****************************************************************

Topics of the Times

("New York Times," 13 January, 1920, p. 12, col. 5)

A Severe Strain on Credulity

As a method of sending a missile to the higher, and even highest,
part of the earth's atmospheric envelope, Professor Goddard's
multiple-charge rocket is a practicable, and therefore promising
device. Such a rocket, too, might carry self-recording
instruments, to be released at the limit of its flight, and
conceivable parachutes would bring them safely to the ground. It
is not obvious, however, that the instruments would return to the
point of departure; indeed, it is obvious that they would not, for
parachutes drift exactly as balloons do. And the rocket, or what
was left of it after the last explosion, would have to be aimed
with amazing skill, and in dead calm, to fall on the spot where it
started.

But that is a slight inconvenience, at least from the scientific
standpoint, though it might be serious enough from that of the
always innocent bystander a few hundred or thousand yards away
from the firing line. It is when one considers the multiple-
charge rocket as a traveler to the moon that one begins to doubt
and looks again, to see if the dispatch announcing the professor's
purposes and hopes says that he is working under the auspices of
the Smithsonian Institution. It does say so, and therefore the
impulse to do more than doubt the practicability of such a device
for such a device must be--well, controlled. Still, to be filled
with uneasy wonder and express it will be safe enough, for after
the rocket quits our air and and really starts on its longer
journey, its flight would be neither accelerated nor maintained by
the explosion of the charges it then might have left. To claim
that it would be is to deny a fundamental law of dynamics, and
only Dr. Einstein and his chosen dozen, so few and fit, are
licensed to do that.

His Plan Is Not Original

That Professor Goddard, with his "chair" in Clark College and the
countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution, does not know the
relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something
better than a vacuum against which to react--to say that would be
absurd. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out
daily in high schools.

but there are such things as intentional mistakes or oversights,
and, as it happens, Jules Verne, who also knew a thing or two in
assorted sciences--and had, besides, a surprising amount of
prophetic power--deliberately seems to make the same mistake that
Professor Goddard seems to make. For the Frenchman, having got
his travelers to or toward the moon into the desperate fix riding
a tiny satellite of the satellite, saved them from circling it
forever by means of an explosion, rocket fashion, where an
explosion would not have had in the slightest degree the effect of
releasing them from their dreadful slavery. That was one of
Verne's few scientific slips, or else it was a deliberate step
aside from scientific accuracy, pardonable enough of him in a
romancer, but its like is not so easily explained when made by a
savant who isn't writing a novel of adventure.

All the same, if Professor Goddard's rocket attains a sufficient
speed before it passes out of our atmosphere--which is a thinkable
possibility--and if its aiming takes into account all of the many
deflective forces that will affect its flight, it may reach the
moon. That the rocket could carry enough explosive to make on
impact a flash large and bright enough to be seen from earth by
the biggest of our telescope--that will be believed when it is
done.

***************************************************************



In 1969, the Times retracted this editorial.

Peter Alway

Author of "Retro Rockets: Experimental Rockets 1926-1941"
Due out this summer--watch this space for an advance order
announcement this month! (please don't request quite yet, we
don't have a page count, price, or place to file orders)

Andrew Broderick

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Jun 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/11/96
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al...@pooh.physics.lsa.umich.edu wrote:

... an excellent article Peter! More than a touch humourous!

All I want to know is: how the heck did the Apollo folks pull off the TLI
burn with nothing to react against ?! Maybe it was all a hoax and it was
a case of its "aiming taking into account all the many factors deflecting
flight"! Still, all hindsight is 20/20. I can just see it now: the year
2096, Peter Alway's great-great-great-great grandson posts something in a
similar vein about 20th century scientists thinking faster-than-light travel
was impossible ...

:-)

Andy
--
Andy J. Broderick | Giving the power to interfere in people's lives to a
Leeds, UK | government is like giving a three-year-old a hammer; they
an...@mft.co.uk | soon discover that everything they encounter requires
| pounding.

Jerry Irvine

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Jun 12, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/12/96
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In article <4pioc8$o...@srvr1.engin.umich.edu>,
al...@tarle3.physics.lsa.umich.edu wrote:

> ("New York Times," 13 January, 1920, p. 12, col. 5)
>
> A Severe Strain on Credulity
>

> for such a device must be--well, controlled. Still, to be filled
> with uneasy wonder and express it will be safe enough, for after
> the rocket quits our air and and really starts on its longer
> journey, its flight would be neither accelerated nor maintained by
> the explosion of the charges it then might have left. To claim
> that it would be is to deny a fundamental law of dynamics, and
> only Dr. Einstein and his chosen dozen, so few and fit, are
> licensed to do that.
>
> His Plan Is Not Original
>
> That Professor Goddard, with his "chair" in Clark College and the
> countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution, does not know the
> relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something
> better than a vacuum against which to react--to say that would be
> absurd. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out
> daily in high schools.

> In 1969, the Times retracted this editorial.

Took a while, eh?

Just Jerry

Good job Peter "Goddardized" Alway

--
Jerry Irvine - jjir...@cyberg8t.com
Box 1242, Claremont, CA 91711 USA
Opinion, the whole thing.

Mike Vande Bunt

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Jun 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/13/96
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Jerry Irvine (jjir...@cyberg8t.com) wrote:
: In article <4pioc8$o...@srvr1.engin.umich.edu>,
: al...@tarle3.physics.lsa.umich.edu wrote:

: > In 1969, the Times retracted this editorial.

: Took a while, eh?

Quite a bit less time than the Vatican took regarding Galileo...

--
Mike Vande Bunt (N9KHZ) Mike.Va...@mixcom.com <*> TRA:4537 NAR:65174

Thomas Lee Grice

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Jun 17, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/17/96
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Quoted from the New York Times:

>
>That Professor Goddard, with his "chair" in Clark College and the
>countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution, does not know the
>relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something
>better than a vacuum against which to react--to say that would be
>absurd. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out
>daily in high schools.
>
>
>In 1969, the Times retracted this editorial.

and well so, Goddard refuted this slam by mounting a revolver
onto the arm of a stand which allowed the arm to freely spin around
vertical axis of the stand. He covered the apparatus with a bell jar
and pumped out air - producing a vacuum. He then fired the pistol by
remote control and the blast produced enough thrust to make the arm
spin violently in the opposite direction.

tlg

--
Tom Grice Don't ask me, I'm only visiting this planet.
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta Georgia, 30332
uucp: ...!{decvax,hplabs,ncar,purdue,rutgers}!gatech!prism!tg14
Internet: tg...@prism.gatech.edu or tg...@ibid.library.gatech.edu

Larry Smith

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Jun 17, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/17/96
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Mike Vande Bunt wrote:

> : > In 1969, the Times retracted this editorial.

> : Took a while, eh?

> Quite a bit less time than the Vatican took regarding Galileo...

It least the church did not demand an actual moon landing and
return by way of proof... =)

The Silent Observer

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Jun 18, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/18/96
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Mayhap not -- but they waited until it had been done, anyway...

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