95 years ago today, Dr. Robert Goddard launched the world’s first liquid-fueled rocket, after building it himself.

The New England physics professor, engineer, and inventor is credited with ushering in the era of space flight, but after he asserted in 1920 that rockets could be used to send payloads to the Moon, he was thought to be absurd and mocked by the press, which called him “Moon Man.”

This ‘first flight’ took place at Auburn, Massachusetts, using liquid oxygen and gasoline as propellants. The rocket, dubbed “Nell”, rose just 41 feet, but it demonstrated that rockets utilizing liquid propulsion were possible, something Goddard proposed 15 years earlier. In the next 15 years, he and his team would launch 34 rockets to altitudes up to 1.6 miles (2.6 km) at speeds up to 550 mph (885 km/h).

The Smithsonian published Goddard’s seminal paper A Method for Reaching Extreme Altitudes, which years later was recognized as marking the dawning of the Space Age—the same as the Wright Brothers flight did for air travel. Yet, the pioneer attracted little serious attention before he died in 1945, a decade before American rocket scientists discovered it was virtually impossible to construct a rocket or launch a satellite without acknowledging the work of Goddard. LEARN more… (1926)

He had 214 patented inventions, including a multi-stage rocket (1914), a liquid-fuel rocket (1914), as well the addition of two-axis controls (gyroscopes and steerable thrust) for rockets to effectively control their flight. In 1959, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center was named in the shy man’s honor.

– Photo credit: Goddard with ‘Nell’; and teaching physics at Clark University in Worcester (1914-1924)

MORE Good News on this Date in History:

  • The British surgeon Joseph Lister first published his discovery of antiseptic surgery, applying Louis Pasteur’s advances and successfully introducing carbolic acid (now known as phenol) to sterilize surgical instruments and clean wounds, which became the first widely used medical antiseptic (1867)
  • The first FA Cup was played, the oldest football competition in the world, in London (1872)
  • Robert Goddard launched the first liquid-fueled rocket (1926)
  • Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia visited London in friendship, the first Communist leader to do so (1953)
  • The first space docking: Gemini 8 with Agena (1966)
  • Russian space station Mir welcomed the first American aboard (1995)
  • Coordinated worldwide peace vigils were held in 100 countries and in more than 6,000 locations, in response to the war in Iraq (2003)
  • The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to establish the UN Human Rights Council (2006)
  • Iraq’s new parliament met briefly for the first time to take the oath (2006)

And, on this day in 1621, Samoset visited the settlers of Plymouth Colony and greeted them saying, “Welcome, Englishmen! My name is Samoset.”

Samoset_meets-the_Pilgrims-drawing-1853He was the first Native American to make contact with the Pilgrims, strolling right into their encampment and speaking English. An Abenaki tribe member from Maine, he had learned some words from the Englishmen who fished and made a camp on Monhegan Island.

171 years ago today, The Scarlet Letter was published in Boston—one of the first mass-produced books in America, by one of America’s first authors Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Set in 1640s Puritan Massachusetts, the novel tells the story of a young woman who conceives a daughter through an affair and then is required to wear a scarlet “A” on her chest and endure public humiliation for the rest of her life. Beautiful, with quiet dignity, she refused to name the father despite unyielding pressure.

Popular in its day, the book went on to earn a reputation as a masterwork of fiction. The Scarlet Letter inspired numerous film and stage adaptations and novelist D. H. Lawrence called it a “perfect work of the American imagination.” Hawthorne followed with a succession of books, including other romances, many short stories, and The House of Seven Gables. (1850)

2012 photo by Angela George, CC license

Happy 67th Birthday to Nancy Wilson, guitarist and vocalist from the band Heart. Alongside her older sister Ann, the Seattle natives starred in the first ‘hard rock’ band fronted by women—and climbed the charts with their debut LP Dreamboat Annie in 1975, and Little Queen two years later. With songs like Magic Man, Crazy on You, and Barracuda, Heart sold over 35 million records. Nancy has been lauded for blending elements of flamenco and classical guitar styles into her hard rock—and Gibson ranked Wilson #8 on the greatest female guitarist of all time. (1954)

And, on this day in 1926, the great comedian, actor, writer, and charity champion Jerry Lewis, was born.

Jerry Lewis-2015-web

First known for his slapstick humor in film, television, stage and radio, Lewis also became the host, for more than 40 years, of the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s annual Labor Day Telethon and national chairman of the MDA, helping to raise more than 2.5 billion to help people with the neuro-muscular disease.  WATCH a hilarious clip of highlights showcasing his physical comedy and famous friends, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra…

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