is the cra­dle of rock­etry? Of space­flight? Well, it is. And yet when you think about Amer­ica and space, what comes to mind? Florida? Sure. Cal­i­for­nia? Check. But New Mex­ico? Here in the land of en­chant­ment, peo­ple are a lit­tle dis­en­chanted with the rest of us for our ig­no­rance. “It’s kind of a load of crap, ev­ery­one think­ing Florida is the place for space,” a wo­man tells me at the Mcdon­ald’s in Alam­ogordo. “New Mex­ico in­vented space.” She has a case. It all started with Robert God­dard, the guy who lit­er­ally wrote the book on rocket sci­ence – A Method of Reach­ing Ex­treme Al­ti­tudes. Ninety years ago, be­fore he came to New Mex­ico, God­dard launched the first liq­uid­fu­elled rocket at his aunt’s farm in Mas­sachusetts. It came down two and a half sec­onds later in a cab­bage patch, prov­ing the vi­a­bil­ity of liq­uid pro­pel­lants – and that God­dard was go­ing to need a big­ger yard. A few years later, look­ing for a wide-open, flat, non-cab­bage­in­fested space where he could (a) see where a falling rocket landed and (b) know that the falling rocket would not set a neigh­bour’s house on fire once it did land, he moved to Roswell, New Mex­ico. That Roswell. It was in Roswell that God­dard set up his main work­shop, where he built big­ger and faster rock­ets and came up with the prin­ci­ples be­hind gy­ro­scopic nav­i­ga­tion. Shortly be­fore he died in 1945, God­dard was taken to a Navy lab and shown

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