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Assistant Secretary Abbot to Secretary Walcott on Goddard's Proposal (October 21 1916)

Attention of Secretary Walcott.

The correspondent, R. H. Goddard of the Dept. of Physics Clark College Worcester Mass. has developed theoretically and in fact experimentally, a method applicable to raise meteorological apparatus to immense heights, far beyond those reached by present methods. Thus the highest free balloon flight so far is about 25 miles. Goddard claims the possibility of reaching several hundred miles altitude!

He proposes to do this by firing successive charges of smokeless powder in a special steel apparatus, who recoil carries it up and up till the charges are all fired. The apparatus is to be protected in descent by a small parachute.

I consider the method probably sound. Indeed I discussed it with Mr. Hale on Mount Wilson about 5 years ago.

Goddard's devices are protected by several patents.

He says the naval board through Webster are trying to get it. But he disires that its use shall also be open to meteorology as well as war.

This will introduce you to his requests made on page 7 of his letter.

I believe there are several meteorological problems of great interest which might be solved by aid of the device, as:

  1. What is the composition of the highest atmosphere.
  2. How does temperature fall are great altitudes? I presume such meteorological applications would involve a very considerable expensive (several thousand dollars) beyond the cost of Goddard's device, and the cost of that itself may will be one or several thousand dollars.

Yours truly

C. G. Abbot