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NASA Glenn inducts first class into its Hall of Fame

NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field, Cleveland, Ohio

NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field, Cleveland, Ohio. Photo Credit: NASA

The NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, inducted the first honorees to its new Hall of Fame on Friday. The center founded the new Hall of Fame to recognize those in its history who built exemplary careers, made significant contributions to NASA Glenn’s success, and exerted a far-reaching influence on the direction and mission of the center.

Friday’s program featured remarks from Center Director Jim Free and Dr. William Barry, NASA’s Chief Historian from headquarters in Washington, D.C., as well as inductee videos, and the presentation of plaques to honorees or their representative.

The first Hall of Fame class honored six individuals and one special group of researchers:

Annie J. Easley – Computer programmer and equal opportunity pioneer

Annie Easley

Annie Easley. Image Credit: NASA

Annie Easley’s career spanned 34 years, contributing to numerous programs as a computer scientist.

She began in 1955 as a “human computer”, analyzing problems and doing calculations by hand for researchers.

She evolved with technology and became an adept computer programmer.

She was extremely active in many educational outreach activities for the center, and later took on the role of equal employment opportunity (EEO) counselor, helping supervisors address gender, race, and age issues at the center in a cooperative way.

She was an example to all for her accomplishments, her stress on the importance of teamwork, and her kindness and generosity to others, until her retirement in 1989. Annie Easley passed away in 2011.




Bruce T. Lundin – Former center director and advocate for NACA’s evolution as a space agency

Bruce Lundin

Bruce Lundin. Image Credit: NASA

Bruce Lundin’s career began in 1943 at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) lab that would become the NASA Glenn Research Center.

He was Chief of the Engine Research Division, overseeing full-scale testing in research that contributed significantly to the performance of modern commercial and military aircraft.

He was one of the most vocal proponents of expanding the lab’s research to spacecraft propulsion.

In 1957, Lundin’s “Some Remarks on a Future Policy and Course of Action for the NACA” helped form the organizational blueprint for NASA.

When the new space agency was formed, he was named Associate Director of the NASA Lewis Research Center (now NASA Glenn), where he oversaw the expansion of space propulsion and power research.

In 1967, Lundin became Center Director and guided the center through a difficult time in the aftermath of Apollo. Its greatest achievements under his tenure were updating the Centaur rocket and integrating the payload with Atlas and Titan boosters, leading to the successes of Pioneer 10, the Mariner missions, and the Viking spacecraft.


James J. Modarelli – Designer of the NASA insignia and outreach program

James Modarelli

James Modarelli. Image Credit: NASA

In 1949, James Modarelli began working as an artist-designer at the NACA lab that would become NASA Glenn Research Center.

When the NACA was approved to become part of NASA, employees were invited to submit new designs for the Agency’s logo. It was Modarelli who submitted the insignia we know today.

He went on to serve as the Management Services Chief for many years and organized many successful and popular public outreach programs and activities for the Agency in the Cleveland area over the years.

Modarelli retired in 1979 and passed away in 2002.





I. Irving Pinkel – Leader in aerospace safety research

I. Irving Pinkel

I. Irving Pinkel. Image Credit: NASA

I. Irving Pinkel was an authoritative voice for aerospace safety. His important Crash Fire Test program from 1948 to 1957 made him a preeminent figure in aircraft accident investigations, determining how fires spread in crashes.

His expertise was called upon during the investigations of the Apollo 1 fire and the Apollo 13 accident.

Following the Apollo 1 accident, Pinkel was asked to serve as Director of the new NASA Aerospace Safety Research and Data Institute (ASRDI) that was being established at the NASA Lewis Research Center (now NASA Glenn).

ASDRI collected information about all of NASA safety problems into one database that would be accessible to the entire agency.

Pinkel served there with distinction until he retired in 1972.  He passed away at age 95 in 2008.




Edward “Ray” Sharp – First Center Director and champion of early center advocacy and growth

Edward 'Ray' Sharp

Edward “Ray” Sharp. Image Credit: NASA

Ray Sharp was the guiding force for the first 20 years of the laboratory that would become NASA Glenn Research Center.

He expedited the wartime construction of the lab, and despite having no formal scientific or engineering training, Sharp’s enormous personality galvanized the people and community resources around him to make the center succeed, produce, and grow.

He managed the lab’s budget, operations, and dealings with Headquarters and the local community.

He would often fight Headquarters, Congress, and other institutions to provide his staff with the tools they needed to carry out their important work.

He continued to lead as the space program began to take shape, playing a vital part in the role the NACA would play when NASA was formed. After nearly 40 years of service, Sharp retired in 1960 and passed away in July of 1961.




Dr. Abraham “Abe” Silverstein – Former center Director and architect of the early space program

Abraham Silverstein

Abraham “Abe” Silverstein. Image Credit: NASA

Abe Silverstein is perhaps the preeminent figure in the history of the NASA Glenn Research Center. His contributions to the Agency are wide, varied, distinguished, and impressive.

They include the development of the nation’s early jet engines, the creation of large supersonic wind tunnels, the use of liquid hydrogen as a propellant, the formation of the Mercury and Apollo programs, the success of the Centaur rocket, and most notably his efforts to establish NASA in the late 1950s.

Although his administrative work in establishing NASA and working with the early manned space programs are his accomplishments that are generally most known and remembered, his most enduring feat was his push to use liquid hydrogen.

The importance of his advocacy for using liquid hydrogen as a propellant cannot be overstated.

A contributor to at least 50 technical reports, recipient of countless awards and honors for distinguished service, Abe Silverstein was one of the most important figures in the early space program, not only to Glenn Research Center but also the entire Agency and nation. He retired in 1969 and passed away in 2001 at the age of 92.


The Giants of Heat Transfer – Dr. Robert Deissler,  Dr. Simon Ostrach, Dr. Robert Seigel – world-renowned researchers whose theories transformed the body of knowledge of heat transfer

Robert Deissler, Simon Ostrach, and Robert Siegel.

Left to right: Robert Deissler, Simon Ostrach, and Robert Siegel. Photo Credit: NASA

These three scientists worked throughout the period of the 1950s to the 1970s, each advancing and transforming our knowledge of heat transfer as it applies to aeronautics, spaceflight, and a wealth of other technical applications.

Their outstanding contributions to the understanding of heat transfer is of incalculable benefit to many modern technologies and industries.

Dr. Deissler passed away this past August.

Dr. Ostrach and Dr. Siegel were on hand to receive their honors at Friday’s ceremony.

This first Hall of Fame induction ceremony was held in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the NACA, which went on to become NASA in 1958. Next year’s induction is planned in celebration of NASA Glenn’s 75th Anniversary.




Michael Cole is a life-long space flight enthusiast and author of some 36 educational books on space flight and astronomy for Enslow Publishers. He lives in Findlay, Ohio, not far from Neil Armstrong’s birthplace of Wapakoneta. His interest in space, and his background in journalism and public relations suit him for his focus on research and development activities at NASA Glenn Research Center, and its Plum Brook Station testing facility, both in northeastern Ohio. Cole reached out to SpaceFlight Insider and asked to join SFI as the first member of the organization’s “Team Glenn.”

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