Ken Pitalo



Mr. Ken Pitalo

Research Scientist V, Center for Applied Optics


Mr. Stephen Kenneth Pitalo received his BS in physics from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1967. He has 24 years of experience in optics, 19 of those years in lens design. He started his career in optical design in 1979 as a member of the IR&D staff of the Automated Test Systems of the Boeing Military Airplane Company in Wichita, Kansas. From 1979 to 1985, working for Boeing (Wichita), Martin-Marietta, and Boeing (Huntsville), his research and development concentrated on the design of optical instrumentation for the testing and evaluation of Forward Looking Infrared Cameras (FLIRs), laser designators / rangefinders, and forward air controllers at the depot and intermediate levels. From 1985 to 1994, Mr. Pitalo worked for Teledyne Brown Engineering and SAIC in supporting the U.S. Army , U.S. Air Force, and the Strategic Defense Command, (SETAs) in the analysis of many of their optical systems, i.e., AOA, HAVE TORCH, ASM, GSTS, E2I, THAD. From 1994 to 1998, as an independent, Mr. Pitalo was employed to analyze and design optical systems for Teledyne Brown Engineering (Huntsville, AL ), SpectRx (Norcross, GA ), KLA ( San Jose, CA ), and The University of Alabama in Huntsville(UAH ).In November, 1998, Mr. Pitalo became a full time staff member of the Center for Applied Optics at UAH. As an IPA and at present as a contractor (CAO at UAH) at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in the Space Optics Manufacturing Technology Center (SOMTC), he supports SOMTC in the design and analysis of optical systems. As an IPA at SOMTEC, Mr. Pitalo supported, by design and analysis of optics, Next Generation Space Telescope ( NGST ), two solar data gathering experiments( SUMI and Solar Probe ), a deformable mirror project ( SIBOA ), and two micro-gravity experiments( TDSE and EDSE ).In collaboration with the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Mr. Pitalo has designed the Super OWL light gathering optic. At present, he is supporting the Extreme Universe Space Observatory (EUSO), a brassboard design for a "20 degree" all reflective telescope for the study of the northern and southern auroras, and the "Return to Flight" of the Space Shuttle. Mr. Pitalo has authored 5 papers in the SPIE journal and holds 5 patents.


  • B.S., Physics, Georgia Institute of Technology, 1967