Search This Blog

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tribute to Earnest C. Smith, Sr., NASA's lunar rover, guidance systems scientist

Earnest C. Smith, Sr. (l) and Earnest C. Smith, Jr. in 1975
Through this blog, I have reconnected with one of my former classmates, Earnest Smith, Jr., from St. Joseph's Mission School in Huntsville, Ala. St. Joseph's was one of the first schools to be integrated in the South, and many of my classmates were children of employees at NASA and Redstone Arsenal.

As a consequence, I would like to honor a person who made major contributions at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a U.S. government agency responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

Earnest C. Smith, Sr. 
Smith holds a BS degree in Mathematics from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (1956) and a Masters in Mathematics from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville (1964). He is a former high school Mathematics instructor at Coleman High School in Pine Bluff and a 1963 Fellow of the National Science Foundation. He joined the Marshal Space Flight Center in 1964 as a decorated colonel of the U.S. Army Reserves.

Smith and team view controls at NASA.
In the mid-1980's, Smith helped to develop the Flight Robotics Laboratory which studies issues involving orbital rendezvous and docking systems.

In 1989, Smith and NASA were issued patent #4,821,425 for a cylindrical surface profile and diameter measuring tool. This invention is basically a metric, tamper-proof, stainless steel mounting fastener. Only 3,774 patents have been issued to NASA in its history which began in 1958.

Smith is a scientist and inventor.
Smith retired from the Marshal Space Flight Center in 1999 as a Senior Executive Service (SES) Level II. While there, he excelled as a lunar rover expert. His technical paper, "Lunar Roving Vehicle Navigation System Performance Review," was co-authored with William C. Mastin.

NASA Partnership with Alabama A&M
Smith also was director of the Astrionics Laboratory. His most prestigious awards include two NASA Exceptional Service Awards and the coveted Astronaut's Snoopy Award, personally presented by NASA astronauts.

Smith on field at football game,  Alabama A&M University vs University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff
Smith also taught an adult Sunday School class at St. John AME Church. He still lives in Huntsville with his wife of 61 years, Bessie, and they are the parents of four sons (Earnest, Jr., Keith, Karnie, and Cydale) and have nine grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
Bessie and Earnest Smith, Sr.

Wingcom Watchdog salutes this space pioneer who made major contributions to science.

(Photos provided by Earnest C. Smith, Jr.)


  1. Earnest, Jr. says: Thanks Tomi, That is awesome!

  2. Clarence says: Tomi,Thank you. Yes, EC shared this story with me earlier. His father is awesome and I plan to stop by and say hello next time I visit Huntsville.

  3. Excellent story and great motivation for youth considering careers in aeronautics/aviation or other related sciences.

  4. Malcolm Harris says: Great revelation! I can only imagine all of the "ugly behavior," the exceptionally talented mathematician & Aerospace scientist/inventor Earnest C. Smith, Sr. was subjected to while attending the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in 1956 & the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville in 1964. Mr. Smith weathered the storm and deserves the ultimate recognition for all of his extremely credible worldly achievements. It's interesting how this system always seems to figure out a way to conceal the TRUTH as to who it was that played a key, integral role with regards to America's ability to travel into space. In my opin, this is the "ripe" time to do a book/movie on all his major accomplishments in the Aerospace (govt sponsored) industry because ppl need to know the TRUTH! Again, thanks for the REVELATION.


Please leave a comment or email your comments to