Fuel feed rate needle valve attributed to one of Robert H. Goddard’s early rockets, circa late 1920s/early 1930s. The piece measures approximately 7 x 5 x 2 and consists of a valve passing through a longer pipe segment attached to a fragment of a larger base; a short bracket extends from the base, which was apparently damaged in a blast during rocket experiments. This artifact was given to Frederick C. Durant III by Goddard’s widow, Esther Goddard, likely during the 1960s. Accompanied by several detailed photographs of the piece and their associated negatives.
Frederick C. Durant III, the former head of astronautics at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, was one of the world’s foremost authorities of spaceflight and rocketry. This piece is not attributed to any specific rocket, and it could have been used in one of Goddard’s static test rockets or in actual flight; its design suggests a relatively early date. The needle valves were located near the top of Goddard’s rockets and were a critical element in controlling his fuel feed line and tank systems.
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