October 2, 1916 - Assistant Secretary Abbot to Secretary Walcott on Goddard's Proposal

Robert Goddard Letter - Oct 2, 1916 - Page 1

SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION

Washington, D. C., Oct 2 1916

Attention of Secretary Walcott.

The correspondent, R.H. Goddard of the Dept. of Physics Clark College Worchester Mass. has developed theoretically and in part experimentally, a method applicable to raise meteorological apparatus to immense heights, far beyond those reached by present methods. Thus the highest free balloon flight so far is about 25 miles. Goddard claims the possibility of reaching several hundred miles altitude!

He proposes to do this 

Robert Goddard Letter - Oct 2, 1916 - Page 2

by firing successive charges of smokeless power in a special steel apparatus, whose recoil carries it up and up till the charges are all fired. The apparatus is to be protected in descent by a small parachute.

I consider the method probably sound. Indeed I discussed it with Mr. Hale on Mount Wilson about 5 years ago.

Goddard's devices are protected by several patents.

He says the naval board 

Robert Goddard Letter - Oct 2, 1916 - Page 3

through Webster are trying to get it. But he desires that its use shall also be open to meteorology as well as War.

This will introduce you to his request made on page 7 of his letter.

I believe there are several meteorological problems of great interest which might be solved by aid of the device, as:
1. What is the composition of the highest atmosphere.
2. How does temperature fall at great altitudes? 

Robert Goddard Letter - Oct 2, 1916 - Page 4

I presume such meteorological application would involve a very considerable expense (several thousand dollars) beyond the cost of Goddard's device, and the cost of that itself may well be one or several thousand dollars.

Yours truly
C.G. Abbot