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Neil Armstrong Chair and Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, The Ohio State University

Dr. John M. Horack is the Neil Armstrong Chair in Aerospace Policy, and holds a joint appointment between the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, in the College of Engineering, and the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. He also serves as the Senior Associate Dean in the College of Engineering.

Before coming to Ohio State in 2016, Dr. Horack served as the Vice President for Space Systems at Teledyne Brown Engineering, as the Vice President for Research at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and spent nearly two decades as a NASA Civil Servant, performing original theoretical and experimental research in high-energy astrophysics, cosmology, and gamma-ray bursts, as well as serving as a member of the Senior Executive Service, leading the Science and Mission Systems Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

He also served as one of the twelve Vice Presidents of the International Astronautical Federation, at the time one of only two Americans, responsible for the technical aspects of the Federation, and for the evolution of the annual International Astronautical Congress. He also provides significant consultation services to a number of commercial space start-up companies, to heads of civil space agencies, and to economic development interests tied to spaceflight.

Dr. Horack is the author or co-author of over 100 scientific papers, conference proceedings, and publications across subjects including space policy, atmospheric physics, and high-energy astrophysics. He was an important member of the scientific teams which discovered the existence of flashes of gamma-rays from terrestrial thunderstorms, and the breakthrough scientific discovery that gamma-ray bursts originate from cosmological distances. He is a sought-after public speaker and authority on space-related matters across the commercial, civil, and national security space domains.

Horack holds a Ph.D. and a Master’s degree in Astrophysics from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and a Bachelors degree in Physics and Astronomy from Northwestern University.

Areas of research:

Role of Civilian Space Agencies in the future
Intersection of Commercial Spaceflight and Civil Aviation
Intersections of Commercial, Civil, and National Security Space activities
International Cooperation in spaceflight
Commercial space business models and implications
Use of spaceflight for decision making, policy development, and governance
Spaceflight as a tool for environmental stewardship, natural resource management, food security, change detection


  • –present
    Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, The Ohio State University


Fellow, Royal Aeronautical Society