This device, made by U.S. rocket pioneer Robert H. Goddard, was part of his system of controllable vanes in the exhaust path of a rocket. The vanes were linked to a gyroscope within the rocket's nose in order the stabilize the rocket in flight. The rocket first using this system was successfully launched on 30 December 1930 and reached a height of 2,000 feet.
A similar although more complex arrangement was used in the German V-2 rocket of World War II. However, Goddard's control vane system was not connected with the development of the system on the V-2. This object was donated to the Smithsonian in 1959 by Esther C. Goddard.
Gift of Mrs. Robert H. Goddard