[vii] Throughout history, the great achievements of civilizations and cultures have been recorded in lists of dates and events. But to look only at the machinery, discoveries, or milestones is to miss the value of these achievements. Each goal achieved or discovery made, represents a supreme effort on the part of individual people who came and worked together for a purpose greater than themselves. Driven by an innate curiosity of the spirit, we have built civilizations and discovered new worlds, always reaching out beyond what we knew or thought was possible. These efforts may have used ships or machinery, but the achievement was that of the humans who made those machines possible - remarkable people willing to endure discomfort, frustration, fatigue and the risk of failure in the hopes of finding out something new.
This is the case with the history of the Goddard Space Flight Center. This publication traces the legacy of successes, risks, disappointments and internationally recognized triumphs of the Center's first 40 years. I t is a story of technological achievement and scientific discovery; of reaching back to the dawn of time and opening up a new set of eyes on our own planet Earth. In the end, it is not a story about machinery or discoveries, but a story about ourselves. If we were able to step off our planet, and if we continue to discover new mysteries and better technology, it is because the people who work at Goddard always had a passion for exploration and the dedication to make it possible.
The text that follows is a testimony to the challenges people at the Goddard Space Flight Center have faced and overcome over almost half a century. Today, we stand on the threshold of a new and equally challenging era. It will once again test our ingenuity, skills, and flexibility as we find new ways of working with our colleagues in industry, government and academia. Doing more with less is every bit as ambitious as designing the first science instrument to study the heavens. But if we are to continue exploring our world and our universe, it is every bit as important.
Robert Goddard once said, "The dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow." This is our heritage. Our challenge is to keep our spirit of dedication, [viii] vision and innovative thinking alive, so we can turn today's dreams into a new century of possibility and progress.
Our journeys into space are the greatest ongoing adventure the human race has ever undertaken, and everyone here has played an important role in that endeavor. I encourage you to read this work with a sense of pride in our history and a cheerful anticipation of our future. This book is about everyone who has worked at the Goddard Space Flight Center