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From Goddard to Apollo: The History of Rockets, Part 1

IEEE via edX

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Learn about one of the greatest engineering efforts in human history: NASA’s Project Apollo and the space race to put a man on the moon.

Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969, just eleven years after the first successful satellite launch (_Sputnik _in 1957) and forty-three years after Robert Goddard’s launch of the world’s first liquid fueled rocket. But the history of rocket development actually can be traced back more than 2,000 years to the experiments of Archytas, an ancient Greek Philosopher.

This aerospace history course will take you back in time and trace the many developments in technology that transformed rockets from celebratory accouterments to weapons and finally to launchpads for human space travel. It is a story of technology, but ultimately the emphasis on this course is about people. Some are very well-known, but others not so.

You will learn how the Chinese introduced rockets as weapons, how early experimenters succeeded through trial and error, how scientific advancement provided the foundation for rocket development and space travel, and how rocket use spread throughout the world prior to the modern era. Finally, you will be introduced to the contributions of rocket pioneers such as Tsiolkovsky, Oberth and Goddard who dreamed of and paved the way for space travel. The course culminates with an introduction of German rocket development in the early 1930s and the emergence the genius rocket engineer Wehner von Braun.

Verified students are eligible to earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and Professional Development Hours (PDHs), valid toward continuing education requirements for many professional certifications.


Module 1: Fireworks and Weapons
Introduction to early rocket development, the first rocket pioneers and how rockets evolved from fireworks to weapons. The lesson covers early technological development, how the advancement of science influenced rocket design and the introduction of rockets to the United States.
Module 2: Rockets for War and Fiction
Introduction to the proliferation of rockets around the world by the British and the integration of rockets into the US army prior to civil war. Focus is on the technological limitations of rockets that limited their military effectiveness and how fiction writers captured the imagination of the public and future rocket pioneers with dreams of space travel.
Module 3: The Rocket Visionaries
Introduction to the rocket visionaries Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky, Robert Esnault-Pelterie and Hermann Oberth who were inspired by Jules Verne’s “From the Earth to the Moon” novel. The lesson reviews the contributions of these visionaries and describes how they were actually predictors for the rocket designs to follow.
Module 4: The Rocket Builders
Introduction to the two rocket builders considered the fathers of modern rocketry, Robert Goddard and Wernher von Braun. The lesson traces Goddard’s experiments and successes in launching liquid fueled rockets and his legacy on rocket development. Learn how von Braun, a budding rocket genius, comes to the attention of the German military and soon will lead a rocket program that is the precursor to the space age. 

Taught by

Burton Dicht


4.0 rating, based on 1 Class Central review

Start your review of From Goddard to Apollo: The History of Rockets, Part 1

  • Kristina Šekrst completed this course and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    This is a nice course for beginners, and its advantage is its mentioned shortness. It could also be a disadvantage if you're looking into studying more than a historical overview. However, I liked the simplicity, it's a great way of getting to know the...

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