Orbital Space

GOES-14 lifts off from Cape Canaveral. The advanc...


Space Debris

This computer-generated image shows objects in low...



An electromagnetic Pulse Plasma Thruster (shown ...



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The Goddard Project

Robert Goddard

Robert Goddard inaugurated the Space Age when he launched the first liquid-fueled rocket on March 16, 1926 on a hill outside Worcester, Massachusetts. Today the international community needs to match Goddard’s expansive scientific vision with an environmental and ethical perspective that encompasses outer space.

Orbital space is a valuable natural resource, serving as home to nearly one thousand satellites owned by fifty nations that are essential to communications, forecasting weather, monitoring climate change and fostering sustainable development. It also is home to other spacecraft, such as the International Space Station and the Fermi space telescope.

Key orbits are becoming congested with debris, however, a result of the expanded utilization of outer space for scientific, commercial, and military purposes. Larger objects include defunct rocket bodies and satellites, the oldest of which is the Vanguard I satellite launched by the United States in 1958. Smaller objects include stray nuts and bolts, discarded camera lens caps, and paint flecks.

Given the speed of orbital objects, a piece of debris the size of a marble can disable a satellite. According to the National Research Council, the debris problem has reached a tipping point and must be addressed through a combination of technological innovation and diplomacy.

The Goddard Project promotes education and public advocacy to ensure a sustainable outer space environment for future use and exploration. The project is named after Robert H. Goddard, the scientist who launched the first liquid-fueled rocket. It is sponsored by the Worcester Area Mission Society (WAMS) of the United Church of Christ in Worcester, Massachusetts, where Goddard was born and conducted his early research.


Multimedia Gallery

Sources of DebrisMitigation Guidelines
Tracking DebrisClimate Change
Risk to SatellitesSocial Progress

Sponsored By

Worcester Area Mission Society