The Start of the Space Race

18 Jul

Some early experiments, briefly described in a March 1930 article by Milton Fairman:

MAN’S valiant struggle to conquer his universe seems now on the eve of another epic victory. In preparation for the morrow’s conflict, two scientists are assembling their armaments. Their laboratories are 4,000 miles apart. An ocean lies between them, but their aspirations are the same – the conquest of space.

If this were not the age of the seemingly impossible, their hopes might seem absurd. This is, however, the century in which the thousands who scoffed at the Wrights and Marconi are soaring through the clouds while radio brings them news of the cities below.

Thus the plans of Prof. Robert H. Goddard, of Clark University, and the German scientist Herman Oberth are being received with higher regard than were the first pronouncements of Doctor Goddard some twenty years ago. The scientific world is becoming rocket-conscious. The poles have been covered, the skies saddled, the mountains penetrated by engineers, nature’s submarine secrets have been disclosed to the camera. Why not probe the interplanetary spaces?

The first steps already have been taken. Rockets have been developed with aerial exploration in view by both Doctor Oberth and Professor Goddard, and Fritz von Opel’s experiments with rocket cars and planes have met with gratifying success. Perhaps it is an exaggeration to talk of reaching the moon. Neither of the leading experimenters have any immediate hopes of doing so. But their preliminary tests have led them to make sanguine prophecies. Some day, the American asserts, man may send a rocket across those 221,614 miles to the moon. Before that, his German colleague believes, rockets may be speeding across the Atlantic bearing mail. Within four years, he asserts, there may be passenger rockets. The soundness of the efforts to send such projectiles to explore the space above us has been endorsed by the Smithsonian Institution, Clark University and the French Academy of Science.

The article used this wonderful image to convey its message:

Reaching for the Moon; Striking Photograph of Rocket Scene from German Film, “The Woman in the Moon,” an Unusually Interesting Story in View of Recent Attempts to Probe Higher Altitudes

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