Dr. Silverstein began his scientific career with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in 1929 at the Langley Research Center.
There he helped design and later was placed in charge of the Full-Scale Wind Tunnel. In this facility he directed important aerodynamic research which led to increased high-speed performance of most of the combat aircraft of World War II.
In 1943 he was transferred to the Lewis Laboratory at Cleveland. As Chief of the Wind Tunnel and Flight Division, he directed research in propulsion aerodynamics in the Altitude Wind Tunnel.
These investigations led to significant improvements in both reciprocation and early turbojet aircraft engines. He also pioneered research on large scale ramjets engines.
Following World War II, Dr. Silverstein was responsible for the conception, design and construction of our nation's first supersonic propulsion wind tunnels.
The investigations in these facilities greatly contributed to the development of our present day supersonic aircraft.
Dr. Silverstein was placed in charge of all the research at the Lewis Research Center in 1949, and in 1952 he was appointed Associate Director of the Lewis Laboratory.
"He was one of the most remarkable persons, engineers, engineer scientists that I've come across" recalls Dr. Robert Graham, Retired Head of the Office of Research Technology Assessment at Glenn Research Center. "He was just a brilliant man, a very demanding supervisor, but a man with a lot of foresight. He seemed to make the right kind of decisions, major decisions for the country at the time."
In May 1958, Dr. Silverstein transferred to NACA Headquarters in Washington to help plan the organization and programs of NASA, subsequently becoming Director of NASA's Office of Space Flight Programs in October 1958.
He directed those NASA programs concerned with mission planning, spacecraft design and development, and in-flight research and operation. Development programs under his direction included space probes and manned and unmanned satellite systems.
Dr. Silverstein returned to Cleveland in November 1961 to take the helm of the Lewis Research Center as Director.
In 1962, with Dr. Silverstein's encouragement, the Centaur Project was transferred from Marshall Space Center to Cleveland. Centaur was a high energy space booster largely responsible for advancing liquid hydrogen fuel and global communications.
Larry Ross, Former Director of NASA Lewis Research Center was hired by Dr. Silverstein in 1963 to work on Centaur.
"He was a genius" Ross said about his former boss. "Abe combined two talents that are rare in a human being. One talent was an innate capacity to do engineering. He was an intuitive engineer. He was well schooled in engineering but like many of his peers at Lewis, he just had a feel for how things work. The other feature of Abe was he was a tremendous visionary and at the same time, a champion."
Dr. Silverstein retired from NASA in October of 1969 and past away in 1992.