Professor Robert H. Goddard, eventual inventor of the first liquid-fueled rocket, caused quite a stir in January 1920 after The New York Times reported that Goddard believed he could build a rocket capable of reaching the moon. In truth, the writer had taken a small part of Goddard's reports on rocket experiments, and sensationalized the portions that talked about hurling a rocket filled with flash powder to the moon. The rocket would explode upon impact, giving people with a telescope the impression of fireworks bursting on the moon.
The story, while popular, took a hit from skeptics would criticized Goddard's calculations. He responded a week later with regret that the media had chosen to focus on his flash powder to the moon experiment, which was more of an idea than a plan anyway, than on his research toward using rockets to explore the atmosphere. Nevertheless, his studies and papers made for an entertaining feature, one that we didn't hesitate to expand on even after Goddard had attempted to redeem his image.
Read the full story in "Hitting the Moon with a Rocket"