Carruthers, George Richard

Carruthers, George Richard, 1939-2020, African-American astrophysicist, b. Cincinnati, OH, Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (BS, 1961; MS, nuclear engineering, 1962; Ph.D., aeronautical and astronautical engineering, 1964). Raised in rural Ohio, Carruthers showed an early interest in space and astronomy, particularly after the family moved to Chicago in 1951. He attend the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he studied astrophysics. After receiving his Ph.D., he was hired at the United States Naval Research Laboratory, heading a team developing new types of telescopes for space exploration. By the late ‘60s-early ‘70s, he was working for the Apollo program, eventually developing a light-weight telescope, the Far Ultraviolet Camera/Spectrograph, that was deployed on the moon during the Apollo 16 mission (1972). Among his awards and honors were the 1973 Helen B. Warner Prize for outstanding astronomer under age 35 from the American Astronomical Society, the National Inventors’ Hall of Fame (2003), and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation (2013); he was honored at a special ceremony at NASA in 2016. He retired from the Naval Lab in 2002, but continued to teach part-time at Howard University until his death.

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