Dr. George Robert Carruthers

Dr. George Robert Carruthers was a prodigy in Astronautical Engineering and the inventor of the only UV spectronographic astronomical telescope sent to the moon. The child of a civil engineer, he excelled in science and always had an interest in what lay beyond the earth’s horizons. He receive his BS (1961) in Physics, MS (1962) in Nuclear Engineering, and PhD (1964) in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). His work focused on plasma dynamics and the forces on rockets and missiles in our upper atmosphere. 

This work led to a position at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in an associate program sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Here he designed and patented the far ultraviolet spectrograph that would be used on the Apollo 16 mission. This camera was able to capture a broad spectrum of light waves used to take images of the moon and earth’s outer atmosphere. 

He then became involved in several STEM organizations and spearheaded initiatives to increase scientific literacy in the Black community. He became a member of the National Technical Association (NTA). He helped to create the Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program (SEAP), which provided co-op roles for students to be mentored by NRL scientists. He also became part of Project S.M.A.R.T. In 2013 he was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by President Barack Obama. After a long career of service Dr. Carruthers passed away December of 2020.


  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/23/science/space/george-carruthers-dead.html
  2. spacecenter.org/remembering-dr-george-carruthers/
  3. https://www.nasa.gov/general/nasa-names-mission-in-honor-of-dr-george-r-carruthers-visionary-behind-first-moon-based-telescope/
  4. https://airandspace.si.edu/stories/editorial/george-carruthers-astronautical-engineer-astronomer