Robert Hutchings Goddard (October 5, 1882 – August 10, 1945) was an American professor, physicist and inventor who is credited with creating and building the world's first liquid-fueled rocket, which he successfully launched on March 16, 1926. Goddard and his team launched 34 rockets between 1926 and 1941, achieving altitudes as high as 2.6 km (1.62 miles) and speeds as high as 885 km/h (550 mph).
As both theorist and engineer, Goddard's work anticipated many of the developments that made spaceflight possible. Two of Goddard's 214 patents — one for a multi-stage rocket design (1915), and another for a liquid-fuel rocket design (1915) — are regarded as important milestones toward spaceflight. His 1919 monograph, A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes, is considered one of the classic texts of 20th century rocket science. Goddard successfully applied three-axis control, gyroscopes and steerable thrust to rockets, all of which allow rockets to be controlled effectively in flight.
Goddard received little public support for his research during his lifetime. Though his work in the field was revolutionary, he was sometimes ridiculed in the press for his theories concerning spaceflight. As a result, he became protective of his privacy and his work. Years after his death, at the dawn of the Space Age, he came to be recognized as one of the founding fathers of modern rocketry. He was the first not only to recognize the scientific potential of missiles and space travel but also to bring about the design and construction of the rockets needed to implement those ideas.