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 Policy.

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 serves as one of the twelve Vice Presidents of the International Astronautical Federation, and 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. He is an FAA-licensed flight instructor, with commercial and instrument pilot ratings.



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

Dr. Horack has been selected as the moderator of the 2016 “Heads of Agencies” Plenary Session at the 67th international Astronautical Congress to be held September 26 in Guadalajara, Mexico. Dr. Horack will lead the 90-minute discussion among the leaders of NASA, the European Space Agency, and the leaders of civil space programs in Japan, China, Russia, India, and Mexico.

Dr. Horack will be leading the 2016 Colloquium “Commercial Broadband Technologies and their Application to Next Generation Space Exploration Networks” as part of the 34th AIAA International Communications Satellite Systems Conference to be held in Cleveland, Ohio on 17 October 2016. This discussion will bring together providers and users of future satellite communications systems, including space-based laser communications, to address needs and opportunities of future space exploration networking. Subjects will include the extension of IP networking to space, data relay in optical and RF spectral bands, and the potential impact of technologies developed for commercial mega constellations, flexible payloads, and other advanced systems.




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