Goddard Hoopskirt Rocket


Display Status:

This object is on display in the Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Collection Item Summary:

American rocket pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard launched the Hoopskirt rocket on December 26, 1928, near Worcester, Massachusetts. It was so-named because it resembled a hoopskirt, a ladies’ fashion of the late 19th century. Goddard made no effort to build the rocket as a streamlined vehicle. He only wanted to test the operation of his rocket motor and make the vehicle as light as possible.

Goddard attempted to launch it on 18 July 1928, but the rocket jammed in the launch tower. Finally on 26 December 1928, on the fourth try, the Hoopskirt cleared the tower and flew for 3.2 seconds, covering a distance of 204.5 feet (62 m). It was Goddard's third liquid-fuel rocket flight. His first was on 16 March 1926. The rocket was donated to the Smithsonian by Mrs. Robert H. Goddard in 1959 and is a reconstruction, as the flimsy structure was smashed by the flight.

Collection Item Long Description:



Inventory Number


Credit Line

Mrs. Robert H. Goddard


Country of Origin

United States of America


Steel and aluminum


Overall: 4 ft. wide x 14 ft. 8 in. long, 28.5 lb. (121.92 x 447.04cm, 12.9kg)

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