Klaus Oswatitsch’s research focused on speeds in excess of 1,190 km/h. The physicist made significant contributions to fluid mechanics, especially gas dynamics and supersonic flows. Among other things, he developed the fabric diffuser for supersonic propulsion, known in the United States as the Oswatitsch diffuser. Space and aviation were also among his research topics, e.g., condensation and chemical reactions during re-entry of satellites into the Earth’s atmosphere.
Born in Slovenia, he studied mathematics and physics at the University of Graz. His scientific career began in 1938 at the Max Planck Institute for Flow Research in Göttingen, and he was a private lecturer from 1942 to 1946. After several years of research in Stockholm and Aachen, he became professor of fluid mechanics in Vienna in 1960.
In 1975 Oswatitsch was chairman of the Symposium Transsonicum, he received the Ludwig-Prandtl-Ring and was a member of the International Academy of Astronautics in Paris as well as of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.