Boy Surrounded by Creativity

Robert Hutchings Goddard was born on October 5, 1882, in Worcester, Massachusetts. In 1883, he moved with his family to Boston, where his father, Nuham Danford Goddard, became a businessman and a successful inventor. His mother was Fannie Louise Goddard.

As a very young child, Robert was stimulated by his father's love of invention, science, and experimentation. Later, it was a fascination with science fiction stories, in particular H. G. Wells's War of the Worlds, that drew his scientific mind toward space travel. Throughout his elementary years, Robert was continually involved with scientific experiments. For example, he tried to jump higher than normal off a fence by first attempting to produce static electricity under his feet through friction generated between the gravel and zinc he had removed from a battery. Robert also conducted experiments on perpetual motion, explored the dynamics of kite flying, and marveled in the uses of magnifying glasses.

Robert was not as healthy as other schoolchildren, and illness frequently kept him home. By the time he was in his teens, he had fallen two years behind his peers in general public education. This brought about a great deal of self-education on Robert's part. He spent many hours at home or in the public library, reading books on chemistry, electricity, the atmosphere, and the elements of the Earth. This study of physical and chemical sciences inspired increasingly more elaborate experiments at home, including an attempt to create diamond out of graphite, water, and an oxy-hydrogen flame, resulting in an explosion. Later, at age 16, he crafted a balloon made of super-heated aluminum and attempted to fill it with hydrogen and fly it through the air.

While he was in his early teens, Robert's mother fell ill with tuberculosis, and the doctors recommended a change in climate. In 1898, the Goddard family moved back to the open countryside near

Worcester, which was fortuitous for Robert's future experiments in rocketry. The area's broad, flat fields would provide ample room for what would one day become risky launches using dangerous explosive rocket fuels.

After the return to Worcester, Robert read H. G. Wells's War of the Worlds, about alien invaders from Mars, which generated in him a sudden burning interest in space travel. He soon had the idea of building and launching his own rocket into space. It was a day Robert would never forget.

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