Gyrostat, Gyroscope Testing Device for Rockets, 1929


Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

This is probably the earliest extant gyroscopic test device for a liquid-fuel rocket. A gyrostat is a means of testing or simulating gyroscopic control. American rocket pioneer Robert Goddard's bicycle gyrostat was a stationary device to test the gyro principle and was evidently operated (made to revolve) with a crude form of rocket or air-breathing reaction motor. According to his diary of for 5 January 1929, he: "…planned on bicycle-wheel gyrostat in afternoon...." On 7 January he: "got bicycle wheel and piping and sawed four notches in bicycle wheel, in afternoon.…" Instead of a flywheel he used a wooden bicycle wheel. He experimented with it from January to at least February 1929 as part of his attempt to develop gyroscopic control for his latest rocket, which was launched in summer 1929

This artifact was found in the collections of the National Air and Space Museum, but was likely transferred to the Smithsonian in 1950 or 1959 by the Guggenheim Foundation or Mrs. Goddard.

Collection Item Long Description:

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum


Credit Line

Found in collections. Donor unknown at this time. Found on NASM premises.


  • HAZMAT: Asbestos
  • Wood, Steel, Copper, Rubber (Silicone), Ceramic Plate, Natural Fabric, Varnish, Paint, Fabric


  • 3-D (As Photographed): 134.6 x 139.7 x 16.5cm (53 x 55 x 6 1/2 in.)
  • Storage: 143.51 x 20.96 x 135.89cm (4ft 8 1/2in. x 8 1/4in. x 4ft 5 1/2in.)

Country of Origin

United States of America





Inventory Number