Ralph Carruth Bio

Melvin “Ralph” Carruth Jr. a Malvern, Arkansas native graduated from Poyen High School in 1971. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Central Arkansas in 1975 and his master’s degree in physics from the University of Arkansas in 1978. Ralph began his career with NASA in 1978 as an engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, working in ion propulsion and associated interactions with spacecraft. He led advances in measurement of thruster charge-exchange plasmas and their interaction with materials, systems and particularly high voltage spacecraft systems. After almost 2.5 years he moved to the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and worked electric propulsion and the effects of the space environment and spacecraft induced environments on spacecraft materials and systems. Accepting positions of increasing responsibility, he became a member of the Senior Executive Service in 2002. He now works as the Director of the Test Laboratory in the Engineering Directorate at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, where he manages the work of 360 NASA and contractor employees who support critical NASA testing for the International Space Station and the Space Launch System as well as other programs with liquid and solid propellant propulsion testing, large scale cryo-structural testing, structural dynamics testing and testing in the environments that flight hardware will be subjected to. Throughout his 40-plus year career focused on laboratory experiments and aerospace engineering, Carruth has collaborated with officials and researchers with the Russian Space Agency, the Italian Space Agency and the European Space Agency to promote cooperation on an international level.  Carruth has had significant involvement in programs such as Hubble Space Telescope, Chandra X-ray Observatory, Tethered Satellite System, Shuttle-Mir, Space Shuttle, International Space Station, and Space Launch System (SLS).  He has received dozens of awards during his career. He is the author or co-author of more than 40 publications in conference proceedings, professional journals and books.  His significant recognition includes the AL/MS AIAA Section Herman Oberth Award for Individual Scientific Achievement, two NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals, the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the NASA Space Flight Awareness Award.