Born: 1908-09-15. Died: 2001-06-01. Birth Place: Terre Haute, Indiana.
Abe Silverstein , who earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering (1929) and an M.E. (1934) from Rose Polytechnic Institute, was a long-time NACA manager. He had worked as an engineer at the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory between 1929 and 1943 and had moved to the Lewis Laboratory (later, Research Center) to a succession of management positions, the last (1961-1970) as director of the center. Interestingly, in 1958 Case Institute of Technology had awarded him an honorary doctorate. When Glennan arrived at NASA, Silverstein was on a rotational assignment to the Washington headquarters as director of the office of space flight development (later, space flight programs) from the position of associate director at Lewis, which he had held since 1952. During his first tour at Lewis, he had directed investigations leading to significant improvements in reciprocating and early turbojet engines. At NASA Headquarters he helped create and direct the efforts leading to the space flights of Project Mercury and to establish the technical basis for the Apollo program. As Lewis's director, he oversaw a major expansion of the center and the development of the Centaur launch vehicle. He retired from NASA in 1970 to take a position with Republic Steel Corp.
A greatly expanded NACA program of space flight research was proposed in a paper, "A Program for Expansion of NACA Research in Space Flight Technology," written principally by senior engineers of the Lewis Aeronautical Laboratory under the leadership of Abe Silverstein. The goal of the program would be "to provide basic research in support of the development of manned satellites and the travel of man to the moon and nearby planets." The cost of the program was estimated at $241 million per year above the current NACA budget.
In a staff report of the House Select Committee on Astronautics and Space Exploration, Wernher von Braun of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency predicted manned circumlunar flight within the next eight to ten years and a manned lunar landing and return mission a few years thereafter. Administrator T. Keith Glennan, Deputy Administrator Hugh L. Dryden, Abe Silverstein, John P. Hagen, and Homer E. Newell, all of NASA, also foresaw manned circumlunar flight within the decade as well as instrumented probes soft-landed on the moon. Roy K. Knutson, Chairman of the Corporate Space Committee, NAA, projected a manned lunar landing expedition for the early 1970's with extensive unmanned instrumented soft lunar landings during the last half of the 1960's.
The Source Selection Board at NASA Headquarters composed of Abe Silverstein, Ralph Cushman, George Low, Walter Schier, DeMarquis Wyatt, and Charles Zimmerman, completed their findings and reported to Dr. T. Keith Glennan, the Administrator. McDonnell Aircraft Corporation was selected as the prime contractor to develop and produce the Mercury spacecraft.
While awaiting the formal transfer of the Saturn program, NASA formed a study group to recommend upper-stage configurations. Membership was to include the DOD Director of Defense Research and Engineering and personnel from NASA, Advanced Research Projects Agency, Army Ballistic Missile Agency, and the Air Force. This group was later known both as the Saturn Vehicle Team and the Silverstein Committee (for Abe Silverstein, Chairman).
NASA accepted the recommendations of the Saturn Vehicle Evaluation Committee Silverstein Committee on the Saturn C-1 configuration and on a long-range Saturn program. A research and development plan of ten vehicles was approved. The C-1 configuration would include the S-1 stage (eight H-1 engines clustered, producing 1.5 million pounds of thrust), the S-IV stage (four engines producing 80,000 pounds of thrust), and the S-V stage two engines producing 40,000 pounds of thrust.
At a luncheon in Washington, Abe Silverstein, Director of the Office of Space Flight Programs, suggested the name "Apollo" for the manned space flight program that was to follow Mercury. Others at the luncheon were Don R. Ostrander from NASA Headquarters and Robert R. Gilruth, Maxime A. Faget, and Charles J. Donlan from STG.
NASA Director of Space Flight Programs Abe Silverstein notified Harry J. Goett, Director of the Goddard Space Flight Center, that NASA Administrator T. Keith Glennan had approved the name "Apollo" for the advanced manned space flight program. The program would be so designated at the forthcoming NASA-Industry Program Plans Conference.
At the first meeting of the Manned Lunar Landing Task Group, Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., Director of the Office of Space Flight Programs Abe Silverstein, and Director of the Office of Advanced Research Programs Ira H. Abbott outlined the purpose of the Group to the members. After a discussion of the instructions, the Group considered first the objectives of the total NASA program:
Albert C. Hall of The Martin Company proposed to Robert C. Seamans, Jr., NASA's Associate Administrator, that the Titan II be considered as a launch vehicle in the lunar landing program. Although skeptical, Seamans arranged for a more formal presentation the next day. Abe Silverstein, NASA's Director of Space Flight Programs, was sufficiently impressed to ask Director Robert R. Gilruth and STG to study the possible uses of Titan II. Silverstein shortly informed Seamans of the possibility of using the Titan II to launch a scaled-up Mercury spacecraft.
NASA Administrator Webb announced major organizational changes and top-level appointments to become effective November 1. The reorganization should provide a clearer focus on major programs and allow center directors to have a louder voice in policy making. The new appointments included the following Directors of major program offices: Ira H. Abbott, Office of Advanced Research and Technology; Homer E. Newell, Office of Space Sciences; D. Brainerd Holmes, Office of Manned Space Flight; and an as yet unnamed Director of Office of Applications Programs. Also, Thomas F. Dixon was appointed Deputy Associate Administrator; Abe Silverstein was named Director of the Lewis Research Center, and Robert R. Gilruth was chosen Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center.