On Friday morning, folks gathered at the Pakachoag Golf Course to recognize the work of Robert Goddard in the field of rocketry. It was on this site (then a farm) that Goddard fired the first liquid-fueled rocket in 1926. That event is considered by many to be the onset of modern rocketry, and Goddard has been called “the man who ushered in the space program.”

As Americans celebrate the 50th anniversary of NASA’s lunar landing, it was appropriate to recognize a local hero who developed concepts and equipment that proved the effectiveness of liquid-fueled rockets.

After welcoming words, attendees made their way down the course to where a stone pillar permanently honors Goddard. There, model rockets were already poised on the launch pads, and members of the Central Mass Rocket Club worked quickly to assure that timely liftoffs would occur.

Children were picked from the audience to push the ignition button, and things went well…..almost. The first rocket fired flawlessly, and it parachuted into the irrigation pond, not unlike a NASA capsule after a mission. Another sputtered but never lifted off, and the rocket was secured by the launch crew.

Many of the models were of noted rockets during the space program, but a couple of odd balls also took to the sky including a replica of Goddard’s 1926 rocket. There were even two made using plastic cups which performed beautifully and parachuted back to earth without obvious damage.

Anyone who watched that first lunar landing on their black & white television was truly fortunate. At the age of 9, I remember sitting with my parents and 3 siblings, and being mesmerized by the scratchy images before us. What a great piece of history.