Goddard May 1926 Rocket

Goddard’s work demonstrated that liquid-fueled rockets were the best possible way to achieve space travel.

Display Status:

This object is on display in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Collection Item Summary:

This device is the oldest surviving liquid-propellant rocket in the world. It was designed and built by U.S. rocket experimenter Robert H. Goddard in Worcester, Massachusetts. It was Goddard's first in which the motor was placed at the base, instead of in the nose. He had used the latter configuration on the world’s first liquid-propellant rocket to fly, which he launched on 16 March 1926. The May rocket likely includes the nozzle from that historic vehicle. His attempt to launch his new rocket on 4 and 5 May 1926 was not successful, as it did not have enough thrust to lift itself.

The Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Foundation for the Promotion of Aeronautics gave this rocket to the Smithsonian in 1950.

Collection Item Long Description:



Inventory Number


Credit Line

Gift of Daniel & Florence Guggenheim Foundation


Country of Origin

United States of America


Aluminum alloy, steel, asbestos wrapping around pipes


Overall: 195.6 × 14cm (6 ft. 5 in. × 5 1/2 in.)

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

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


CRAFT-Missiles & Rockets

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