Robert Hutchings Goddard (1882-1945), an American physicist and inventor who, in 1926, constructed and successfully tested the first rocket using liquid fuel. Along with Tsiolkovsky and Oberth, Goddard is recognized as one of the primary founders of modern rocketry and as having launched an entirely new field of science and engineering. Goddard's test flight lasted just 2.5 seconds, reaching an altitude of 12.3 meters and landing (crashing, actually) 55.2 meters from the launch site in his Aunt Effie's cabbage patch. Funded by aviator Charles Lindberg and philanthropist Daniel Guggenheim, Goddard built an entire research laboratory on Eden Valley near Roswell, New Mexico. Over the following decades, Goddard developed a wide range of technologies and produced 214 patents in rocketry. He also made an early breakthrough in magnetic levitation (1904); he proposed a frictionless form of travel by raising train cars off the rails by electromagnetic repulsion roadbeds. In his design, the trains would travel at fantastic speeds inside a steel vacuum tube.
Brief History of Rockets (NASA Glenn Research Center)
Inventor Profile: Robert Hutchings Goddard (National Inventors Hall of Fame)
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Homepage
Robert H. Goddard: American Rocket Pioneer (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)