Dr. George W. Sutton
Retired at
SPIE Involvement:
Conference Program Committee | Author
Area of Expertise:
high energy lasers, aero-optics, missiles
Profile Summary

• First to measure stress waves caused by cavitation (doctoral thesis).
• Measured the heat transfer in a rocket nozzle throat.
• Invented, developed, and demonstrated first ablation heat protection material for hypersonic reentry.
o Developed for the G.E. data capsule. It took the first photos of Earth from space (300 mi)
o That success led to the Corona Project satellite photo reconnaissance with recovered the film with the Satellite Recovery Vehicle that used my ablation material, that showed that the Soviet Union had only 6 ICBMs instead of hundreds (John Kennedy’s “missile gap”).
o Used on U.S. missile reentry vehicles and the Mercury manned satellite.
• Pioneered magnetohydrodynamic engineering; wrote text book and taught graduate courses at U.P. and M.I.T.
• Scientific Advisor to U.S. Air Force Headquarters (2 years); helped initiate several important programs.
• DARPA Amos site – made possible first ground-based image of a foreign space vehicle.
• Initiated first high power laser project (over 100 kW).
• Pioneered aero-optics.
• Ballistic missile defense – multicolor infrared discrimination analysis.
• Most recent work for the Missile Defense Agency – airborne defense.
• Member of 6 National Research Council studies - with published results.
• Authored or coauthored 118 papers and co-authored/edited 3 books.
• Editor-in-Chief of the AIAA Journal for 30- years.
Publications (12)

PROCEEDINGS ARTICLE | November 30, 2017
Proc. SPIE. 2104, 18th International Conference on Infrared and Millimeter Waves
KEYWORDS: Observatories, Telescopes, Mirrors, Borosilicate glass, Stars, Infrared astronomy, Telescope design, Optical instrument design, Tolerancing, Zerodur

PROCEEDINGS ARTICLE | September 17, 2013
Proc. SPIE. 8877, Unconventional Imaging and Wavefront Sensing 2013
KEYWORDS: Diffraction, Fourier transforms, Laser beam propagation, Distortion, Near field, Turbulence, Modulation transfer functions, Geometrical optics, Atmospheric turbulence, Near field optics

PROCEEDINGS ARTICLE | July 26, 2011
Proc. SPIE. 8001, International Conference on Applications of Optics and Photonics
KEYWORDS: Imaging systems, Scattering, Magnetism, Fourier transforms, Wave propagation, Refraction, Turbulence, Radio propagation, Airborne laser technology, Correlation function

PROCEEDINGS ARTICLE | July 1, 2002
Proc. SPIE. 4714, Acquisition, Tracking, and Pointing XVI
KEYWORDS: Actuators, Mirrors, Composites, Resistance, Wavefronts, Space mirrors, Solids, Differential equations, Lightweight mirrors, Protactinium

PROCEEDINGS ARTICLE | June 4, 2002
Proc. SPIE. 4632, Laser and Beam Control Technologies
KEYWORDS: Mirrors, Carbon dioxide, Resonators, High power lasers, Carbon dioxide lasers, Laser marking, Gas lasers, Analytical research, Missiles, Chemical lasers

PROCEEDINGS ARTICLE | July 26, 1999
Proc. SPIE. 3705, Window and Dome Technologies and Materials VI
KEYWORDS: Thermography, Infrared imaging, Nose, Adaptive optics, 3D modeling, Turbulence, Missiles, Aerodynamics, Failure analysis, Imaging infrared seeker

Showing 5 of 12 publications
Conference Committee Involvement (1)
High-Power Electrical Lasers and Beam Control
25 January 2000 | San Jose, CA, United States
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