American rocket pioneer Robert Goddard conceived of the multi-charge rocket in 1914. Solid propellant charges were automatically fed into the chamber, ignited and discarded sequentially until all the cartridges had been fired. In 1916, he approached the Smithsonian about building an atmospheric sounding rocket using this principle. The Smithsonian gave Goddard a grant in January 1917 to undertake his experiments.
With the U.S. entry into World War I, Goddard felt compelled to suggest that the same rocket might have military applications. With Smithsonian approval, he began to develop and test fire his rockets for the war effort. After the Armistice, the military lost interest. Goddard could never make his multi-charge rocket work and abandoned it for liquid propellants in 1921.
This object was found in the Smithsonian collections, but likely was part of a major gift of Goddard artifacts by the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Foundation in 1950.
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