Two-level metal rocket fuel tank baffle attributed to one of Robert H. Goddard’s early rockets, circa mid-to-late 1920s. The piece measures approximately 3.5″ in diameter and 2.25″ tall, and consists of two discs connected by four rods. This artifact was given to Frederick C. Durant III by Goddard’s widow, Esther Goddard, likely during the 1960s.
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, but its small size suggests an early date as Goddard’s rockets (and their fuel tanks) grew larger as his experiments progressed. The baffle was an important element of Goddard’s fuel tank design, used to combat the ‘slosh’ of liquid propellant during flight.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.