The World’s First Liquid-Fuel Rocket

After working to develop solid-fuel rockets for the U.S. Army in World War I, Robert Goddard switched to liquid fuels, which had the energy needed to reach space. He quickly settled on liquid oxygen and gasoline as the most convenient propellant combination.

In 1926 he was finally ready to launch his liquid-fuel rocket. On March 16 at a farm outside Worcester, Mass., it took off on a 2.5-second flight, reached an altitude of 12.5 meters (41 feet), and covered a distance of 56 meters (184 feet). It was the first liquid-fuel rocket launch in history.

Robert Goddard with world's first successful liquid-fuel rocket. After a failed attempt on March 8, 1926, he launched it on March 16.

Reproduction of Goddard’s March 1926 rocket and his original May 1926 rocket in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall at the Museum in DC.