This is Goddard No. 9 wildcat well outside Roswell, New Mexico getting ready to be open-hole logged by Schlumberger in late 1939...
Sorry. I'm just pulling your leg. This rig looking thing is actually a launch tower for rockets. There is a fella spread eagled in the top of this derrick that at first glance looks like a crown block. Hopefully he will climb down at minus 10 and counting.
It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.
—Dr. Robert Hutchings Goddard
Dr. Robert Hutchings Goddard (1882-1945) is thought to be the father of modern rocketry and rocket propulsion. He first began launching rockets in 1926. The opening photograph is of a test firing by Dr. Goddard in the plains north of Roswell, New Mexico in 1939. He used this bit of jack rabbit pasture, and this rig looking launch tower, from 1929-1941 for a number launches that experimented with early gyro technology, aerodynamic vane designs and gimble steering. His first launchings in the 1920's used gunpowder as a propellant He once wrote a paper in 1922 suggesting a rocket could actually reach the moon someday, which he was ridiculed for by the science community.
As his career advanced he developed better liquid propellant sources and this rockets reached higher and higher altitudes. His work gradually earned the respect of many.
Roswell, New Mexico, right
This launching of this rocket in Roswell, above, in 1937, carried a barometer and a camera.
Dr. Goddard, above.
Below, what goes up, always comes down.
The Goddard family spent enough time in the Roswell community to become deeply involved in New Mexican issues and Robert has a high school named after him in Roswell, as well as a memorial plaza, below, near downtown.
In September of 1959, 14 years after his death, Dr. Robert Goddard received a gold medal of honor from the 86th Congress of the United States. Three years later, in 1961, NASA dedicated its Robert Goddard Space Flight Center in Washington DC. This wife Esther attended both events.