• Post category:Space Science
  • Reading time:4 mins read

In this second part of this series, we will continue our discussion
on unsung heroes of space science.

 In the photo: Jack-of-all-trades - Roy Bryant viewing an aircraft takeoff.
In the photo: Jack-of-all-trades – Roy Bryant viewing an aircraft takeoff.

Roy G. Bryant: He Mothered NASA’s Mother Ship

In aviation, pilots tend to receive recognition for their skill and bravado, while engineers, technicians, and maintainers – the enablers of flight – are usually overlooked. However, the contributions of these non-flying personnel are essential to successful flight research.

Starting off as a young aerospace engineer in the late 1950s, Roy Bryant’s career encompassed such aeronautics projects as the X-15, JB-47A, the F-100, F-107A, and the Daedalus human-powered aircraft.

Bryant was part of NASA’s famous X-15 hypersonic flight project, serving in the mission control room during flights, doing everything from logging pilot comments to providing calibrations for X-15 flights. He was known as a veritable jack-of-all-trades.

During the mid-1970s, he was the project manager on the YF-17 fighter and oversaw the center’s fleet of F-104 Starfighter research and chase aircraft. He spent nearly 30 years as the project manager of NASA’s B-52B mother ship, an iconic aircraft that launched many of the most significant aerospace vehicles in history.

Dr. George Carruthers
Dr. George Carruthers

Dr. George Carruthers: Lunar Observatory Developer

Dr. George Carruthers, an African-American, grew up dreaming of space while reading science fiction and Buck Rogers comic books, and (slightly later) more realistic astronomy books, is representative of the many Apollo-era scientists who made the most of opportunities to turn our first six human lunar explorations into more than flags and footprints.

Today, on the moon’s Descartes highland region, in the shadow of the lunar module Orion, sits the Far UV Camera/ Spectrograph, the first moon-based observatory that Carruthers developed for the 1972 Apollo 16 mission.

in 1972 he led a team that responded to a NASA announcement of opportunity to develop the first and thus far only lunar astronomical observatory. The Far Ultraviolet Camera/Spectrograph used a 3-inch diameter telescope to photograph Earth, various nebulae, star clusters, and the Large Megellanic Cloud.

He has worked on UV imaging of Earth’s polar auroras and of the faint photochemical luminescence found in the upper atmosphere, with an instrument, Global Imaging Monitor of the Ionosphere (GIMI), on a Department of Defense satellite, the Advanced Research and Global Observation Satellite (ARGOS), launched in 1999. This was the first of his instruments that used radio transmissions of images to the ground, rather than using film.

He would like to see NASA remember that not all of its great science comes out of large-scale missions.

We will continue with this in our upcoming newsletters.


  • Edward S. Goldstein (NASA)
  • Gray Creech (NASA)

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