New Mexico

Robert H. Goddard Develops Liquid-

Dr. Goddard (1882-1945) is considered the father of modern rocket propulsion. As an inventor and visionary, he, more than anyone else, paved the way for the space age.

One of humanity's earliest steps toward space travel began in Roswell, New Mexico, where Dr. Goddard refined his liquid fuel technology for eleven years.

Goddard's work influenced not only the role of technology in New Mexico's history, but national and international history as well.

Dr. Goddard set up an experimental station in Roswell, New Mexico, where throughout the 1930s, he created the basis of modern rocketry, including gyroscopic directional controls, exhaust-deflection steering, rapid-combustion fuels, and power-driven fuel pumps.

In World War II, Goddard worked for the Navy; but ironically, the Germans took his work more seriously, and so benefited more from it than the U.S. In 1959, however, Congress dedicated NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center to him. And his work lives on in the fundamentals of the industry he made possible.

Robert H. Goddard

Photo taken by Esther K. Goddard

Dr. Robert H. Goddard at Roswell, New Mexico in October 1935. His rockets were gasoline and liquid-oxygen fueled and gyro-scope controlled.

Col. Randy Lovelace
Colonel Randy Lovelace (lower center) and the B-17 flight crew prior to his historic "first" parachute jump.


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Colonel Randy Lovelace Invents High-Altitude Oxygen Mask

In the mid 1930s, Col. Lovelace began focusing a study on the problems encountered by military and civilian pilots flying at higher altitudes. He and his staff of researchers started work on the task of devising an oxygen mask suitable for high-altitude flight.

During that time, he and his team invented a unique oxygen mask that Col. Lovelace personally tested in flights up to 15,000 feet in a single-engine Stinson. The first public announcement of the new mask was made in September of 1938 in Dayton, Ohio.

As World War II progressed, the special problems of military pilots facing the necessity of bailout at high altitudes surfaced. The gear the team developed- basically a small bailout cylinder containing an approximately twelve minute supply of oxygen-clearly needed to be tested in the field. Though Col. Lovelace had never taken a parachute jump in his life, he decided to take the crucial first high-altitude leap himself, rather than assign the dubious honor to one of his subordinates. On June 24, 1943, he made his historic parachute leap from the bomb bay of a B-17 at 40,200.