First to State Propulsion in Space
Name: John M.
Who was the scientist who first said that propulsion
would work even in outer space?. I seem to remember the scientific
community laughed at him initially, at least. In a way is similar
to Alfred Wegener's case on plate tectonics.
I believe you are thinking of Robert Goddard. He explained rocket
motion within the context of conservation of momentum, rather than
requiring a rocket to "push off" of something.
Hope this helps.
A very good question. My guess would be Robert Goddard, although he
really built upon the ancient Chinese who might have been launching
rockets 1000 years ago. Then we must not forget Arthur C. Clark, whose
vivid imagination and first rate writing showed humanity what it could
accomplish in space. Then Werner von Braun actually built the great
boosters that launched us to the Moon.
David H. Levy
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Update: June 2012