Saturday, August 3, 2013

Rocket Man

Driving home from Nova Scotia we quite by accident wound up spending the night in Auburn Massachusetts. And when we left the hotel the next morning we checked the Roadside America app to see if there were any places of interest.

There was. A small park, built by the local Rotary Club and maintained by the town. It is immediately adjacent to the town fire department and shares a parking lot.

It is the Robert H. Goddard Park.

Dr. Goddard launched the first liquid fueled rockets from a nearby site (now a golf course) and the park has a life sized replica of this historical rocket.

From such modest beginnings can we trace the pedigree of the giant Saturn V that took humans to the moon. It was Goddard who first wrote about moon flights in a 1920 paper, which prompted the NY Times to write in an editorial:

That Professor Goddard, with his "chair" in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution, does not know the relation of action and 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.  (Wikipedia)

Showing that the inability of the press to report on scientific subjects is not a new phenomena. To its credit, the times did publish a retraction in 1969, when Apollo 11 did make it to the moon. Of course rockets, manned and unmanned, had been traveling in the vacuum of space for years by then.

The park also has a much larger Polaris missile on display.

I've not been able to find any connection between Goddard and the Polaris missile, other than it being a rocket. But it was cool to see and rather obvious from the road, making the park easy to find. And it was a cool way to start the last day of our trip.