Reaching Toward Space

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  • Describes rocket pioneer Robert H. Goddard's work and his long relationship with the Smithsonian Institution. In 1917, Charles G. Abbot, then director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and later Smithsonian Secretary, became intrigued with Goddard's suggestion that rockets could boost scientific instruments into the upper atmosphere and provided a $5,000 grant to the young physics professor to support his experiments. The Smithsonian published Goddard's rocketry treatise, "A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes," in 1919, and Goddard sent one of his experimental rockets to the Smithsonian in 1935, with the request that it not be shown or exhibited without his permission.
  • After Goddard died in 1945, the rocket was on temporary display; it has been in storage for a number of years but will be displayed at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, scheduled to open at Washington Dulles International Airport in 2003. The article also touches on Goddard's personal and business relationships with Charles A. Lindbergh and Harry F. Guggenheim.


  • Lindbergh, Charles A (Charles Augustus) 1902-1974
  • Goddard, Robert Hutchings 1882-1945
  • Abbot, C. G (Charles Greeley) b. 1872
  • Guggenheim, Harry Frank 1890-
  • Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
  • National Air and Space Museum


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Article includes 3 photographs.

Contained within

Smithsonian Vol. 31, No. 11 (Journal)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


February 2001


  • Grants-in-aid
  • Inventors
  • Secretaries
  • Inventions
  • Rockets (Aeronautics)
  • Rocketry

Physical description

pgs. 38, 40 & 42; The Object At Hand Section

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