In 1919 the Smithsonian published a book by Robert Goddard entitled “A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes”. This book is considered one of the most significant works of the modern science of rocketry. In it Goddard lays out the means of using rockets in the upper atmosphere and “why” rockets could work in the vacuum of space. In this marvelous book Goddard also shows how it would be possible to escape earth’s gravity using multi-stage rockets. However on Jan. 13, 1920 the New York Times published an article that openly mocked Goddard’s ideas. The article went on to say that “space travel was impossible, since without atmosphere to push against, a rocket could not move so much as an inch” and that he “seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools”
It wasn’t until after Apollo 11 headed for the moon on July 17th,1969 that the NYT finally came clean and printed this “Further investigation and experimentation have confirmed the findings of Isaac Newton in the 17th century and it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error.”
You can download (right click and “save link as”) the entire book “A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes” here.