Paulet, Pedro E. (1874–1945)

Pedro Paulet was a Peruvian chemical engineer reputed to have conducted experiments in Paris, beginning in 1895, on a rocket motor made of vanadium steel that burned a combination of nitrogen peroxide and gasoline. If true, this would credit Paulet as the designer of the first liquid-fueled rocket.


Pedro Paulet


The motor was described as weighing about 5 lb and using spark gap ignition of the fuels within a combustion chamber. It was said to have been capable of producing a 200-lb thrust at 300 sparks per minute. Paulet claimed that his rocket motor could burn continuously for as much as one hour without suffering any ill effects. However, news of what may have been a groundbreaking advance in rocketry did not surface until 27 October 1927, when a letter from Paulet appeared in an issue of the Peruvian publication El Comercio in which he claimed legal ownership of his earlier rocket motor design.


Recognizing that rocketry was beginning to boom in Europe, Paulet sought witnesses to help verify the work he said he had done years earlier. The letter was circulated across the world by a Russian named Alexander Scherschevsky in summary form. Had Paulet's work been authenticated, he would today be considered the undisputed father of liquid propellant rocketry. As it is that title is more commonly attributed to Robert Goddard.