Publisher Information: Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1919.
Goddard, Robert H. (1882-1945). A method of reaching extreme altitudes. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 71, no. 2. 8vo. , 69, pp. 5 plate leaves with plates numbered 1-10. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1919. 246 x 168 mm. Original tan printed wrappers, skillfully repaired, preserved in a folding cloth box. Very good copy. From the library of Harrison D. Horblit (1912-88), author of the noted bibliography One Hundred Books Famous in Science (1964), with his bookplate on the inner flap of the folding box.
First Edition of the earliest practical treatise on the development of rocketry for space flight. “Like the Russian hero Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and the German pioneer Hermann Oberth, Goddard worked out the theory of rocket propulsion independently. . . . Having explored the mathematical practicality of rocketry since 1906 and the experimental workability of reaction engines in laboratory vacuum tests since 1912, Goddard began to accumulate ideas for probing beyond the Earth’s stratosphere. His first two patents in 1914, for a liquid-fuel gun rocket and a multistage step rocket, let to some modest recognition and financial support from the Smithsonian Institution. . . . . The publication in 1919 of his seminal paper ‘A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes’ gave Goddard distorted publicity because he had suggested that jet propulsion could be used to attain escape velocity and that this theory could be proved by crashing a flash-powder missile on the moon. Sensitive to criticism of his moon-rocket idea, he worked quietly and steadily toward the perfection of his rocket technology and techniques. With an eye toward patentability of demonstrated systems and with the aid of no more than a handful of technicians, Goddard achieved a series of workable liquid-fuel flights starting in 1926. . . . Among Goddard’s successful innovations were fuel-injection systems, regenerative cooling of combustion chambers, gyroscopic stabilization and control, instrumented payloads and recovery systems, guidance vanes in the exhaust plume, gimbaled and clustered engines, and aluminum fuel and oxidizer pumps” (Dictionary of Scientific Biography).
The secretive Goddard published only two booklets on rocketry, of which this is the first. The remainder of his work was documented in patents. Goddard’s booklet of 1919 was preceded by the theoretical writings of Tsiolkovsky published in Russian, 1903-1914, and by the theoretical paper by Esnault-Pelterie published in French in 1913. Goddard & Pendray, The Papers of Robert H. Goddard, I, 233-38.Book Id: 43688