Country of Origin: United States of America
3-D Test: 19.7 x 6.4 x 2.2cm (7 3/4 x 2 1/2 x 7/8 in.)
Tube, glass; cork plug; strand of thin copper wire attached to block of hardened red sealing wax at cork end of the tube.
American rocket pioneer Robert Goddard (1882-1945) used this device between 1924 and 1928 in his experiments to determine the feasibility of ion propulsion for space travel. Ion engines, in which electrically charged particles of atoms are discharged, produce extremely high exhaust velocities. Experiments in space with ion propulsion first took place in 1964.
Mrs. Goddard gave this artifact to the Smithsonian in 1965.
Gift of Mrs. Robert Goddard