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Simon Ostrach papers

Biographical note

Simon Ostrach is an internationally known scientist and pioneer in the fields of buoyancy-driven flows and microgravity science. He is highly regarded for his work as principal investigator on the Surface-Tension Driven Convection Experiments (STDCE 1 and 2), which were conducted on two NASA Spacelab missions, United States Microgravity Laboratories 1 (June 25-July 9, 1992) and 2 (October 20-November 5, 1995). The experiments explored thermal convection phenomena of liquids under microgravity conditions.

Dr. Ostrach was born December 26, 1923, in Providence, Rhode Island, to Samuel and Bella Ostrach. He received a bachelor's degree in science in mechanical engineering from Rhode Island State College (now University of Rhode Island) in 1944.

From 1944-1947, Dr. Ostrach worked at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) in Cleveland, Ohio, as an aeronautical research scientist. He left NACA in 1947 to further his studies at Brown University.

After graduating from Brown with two degrees in applied mathematics: the master of science in 1949 and the doctorate in 1950, Dr. Ostrach returned to Cleveland and served as the Chief of the Fluid Physics Branch, Lewis Research Center (renamed John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in 1999), National Aeronautics and Space Administration, until 1960.

He was a professor of mechanical engineering at Case Institute of Technology (renamed Case Western Reserve University in 1967) and Head of the Division of Fluid, Thermal, and Aerospace Sciences. In 1970, Dr. Ostrach became the Wilbert J. Austin Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Case Western Reserve University, from which he retired in 2005. He was the founding director of the National Center for Microgravity Research (later renamed the National Center for Space Exploration Research) from 1997 to 2005. After his formal retirement, he continued to teach courses at Florida State University, where he had helped design the engineering curriculum.

He made groundbreaking contributions to engineering and the understanding of natural convection and physiologic and microgravity flows. He is the author of a numerous publications in the fields of fluid mechanics and heat transfer.

Dr. Ostrach is a fellow of several prestigious organizations including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He served as the Home Secretary of the National Academy of Engineering for two terms from 1992-2000.

Dr. Ostrach is the recipient of many awards and honors, and professorships at the University of Rhode Island and Florida State University have been established in his name. He has received honorary degrees from: Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (D. Sc., 1986); Florida State University (D. Eng., 1994); University of Rhode Island (D. Sc. 1995), and Brown University (Sc.D., 1997). In 1993, NASA awarded Simon Ostrach the Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest honor NASA awards to persons not employed by the government. In 1994, Brown University honored Dr. Ostrach with the Graduate School Achievement Award.

Dr. Ostrach has completed 16 microgravity flights on a KC-135 and in 2004, at the age of 81, he entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest person to make a reduced gravity flight.

He married his high school sweetheart from Providence, Rhode Island, Gloria Ostrov, but the couple later divorced. She died in 2008. His second wife was Margaret Ostrach. He had 4 children. Dr. Ostrach died in Ohio on October 16, 2017. He was 93 years old.