Press Release

Dr. Abe Silverstein, Early Architect of the Apollo Moon Landing, Dies

By SpaceRef Editor
June 1, 2001
Filed under ,

Dr. Able Silverstein, a leading figure in 20th century
aerospace engineering and director of NASA Lewis Research
Center from 1961 to 1969, now the John H. Glenn Research
Center Lewis Field, Cleveland, OH, died early today. He was

Dr. Silverstein began his career with NASA’s predecessor, the
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), at its
Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA, in 1929. In 1943, he
transferred to the NACA Laboratory in Cleveland, where he
performed pioneering research on large-scale ramjet engines.

After World War II, Silverstein conceived, designed and
constructed the first U.S. supersonic propulsion wind tunnel.
The 10 foot by 10 foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel is still
operational at Glenn, which supported the development of
supersonic aircraft.

In 1958, Dr. Silverstein moved to NACA Headquarters in
Washington, DC, where he helped create and then directed
efforts leading to the Mercury space flights. He later named
and laid the groundwork for the Apollo missions that put the
first man on the Moon.

“NASA has lost a true founding member. Early in my career, I
had the opportunity to work with Dr. Silverstein. He was a man
of vision and conviction,” said NASA Administrator Daniel S.
Goldin. “His effective leadership, both at Headquarters and at
Lewis, directly contributed to the ultimate success of
America’s unmanned and human space programs, and his
innovative, pioneering spirit lives on in the work we do

When he returned to Cleveland to become Director of NASA
Lewis, Dr. Silverstein was a driving force behind the creation
of the Centaur launch vehicle, particularly the hydrogen-
oxygen upper stage propulsion system. Dr. Silverstein
demonstrated that liquid hydrogen was light, powerful and safe
enough to use for rocket propulsion, thus getting the nation’s
space program off the ground.

In 1997, Silverstein received the prestigious Guggenheim Medal
for his “technical contributions and visionary leadership in
advancing technology of aircraft and propulsion performance,
and foresight in establishing the Mercury and Gemini manned
space flight activities.”

“NASA Glenn is an outstanding Center because of Abe’s
leadership when NASA was a growing organization. He was an
exceptionally talented engineer whose pioneering work paved
the way to many successes,” said Glenn Center Director Donald
J. Campbell. “He was by far the cornerstone for many of the
accomplishments at Glenn.”

Additional information regarding the career of Dr. Silverstein
is available on the Internet at:

SpaceRef staff editor.