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Space History Photo: Dr. Robert Goddard

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Dr. Robert Goddard, namesake for the Goddard Space Flight Center, works on one of his multi-stage rockets in 1932. (Image credit: NASA.)

In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, the Goddard Space Flight Center was named in honor of Dr. Robert Goddard, a pioneer in rocket development. Dr. Goddard received patents for a multi-stage rocket and liquid propellants in 1914 and published a paper describing how to reach extreme altitudes six years later.

That paper, "A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes," detailed methods for raising weather-recording instruments higher than what could be achieved by balloons and explained the mathematical theories of rocket propulsion. The paper, which was published by the Smithsonian Institution, also discussed the possibility of a rocket reaching the moon — a position for which the press ridiculed Goddard. Yet several copies of the report found their way to Europe, and by 1927, the German Rocket Society was established, and the German Army began its rocket program in 1931. Goddard, meanwhile, continued his work.

By 1926, he had constructed and tested the first rocket using liquid fuel. Goddard's work largely anticipated in technical detail the later German V-2 missiles, including gyroscopic control, steering by means of vanes in the jet stream of the rocket motor, gimbal-steering, power-driven fuel pumps and other devices.

The National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA) was a precursor to NASA. NACA was created by Congress in 1915.

Each weekday, SPACE.com looks back at the history of spaceflight through photos (archive).

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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the U.S. government agency in charge of the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Founded in 1958, NASA is a civilian space agency aimed at exploring the universe with space telescopes,  satellites, robotic spacecraft, astronauts and more. The space agency has 10 major centers based across the U.S. and launches robotic and crewed missions from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Florida. It's astronaut corps is based at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. To follow NASA's latest mission, follow the space agency on Twitter or any other social channel, of visit: nasa.gov