George W. Karthas earned a bachelor's degree in Philosophy from Renesselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1961 and a master's degree in Astronomy from Indiana University in 1963. He joined the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory in the summer of 1962 and was assigned to the Apollo program Optics Group. He was given the responsibility of testing and evaluating the performance of the both the scanning telescope and sextant in the Command Module (CM) and the alignment optical telescope (AOT) in the Lunar Module (LEM).
Some of Karthas' contributions to the Apollo program include the development of vendors for high efficiency antireflecting coatings for telescope lenses, redesigned the reticle in the sextant to accommodate vacuum focus shift discovered during vacuum chamber tests, designed sun shields for the front ends of the scanning telescope and AOT, performed solar simulation tests to determine sun exclusion angles for star sightings, evaluated the star catalog to eliminate visual binary and variable brightness stars, and reviewed and signed off on all changes to the optics hardware.
George Karthas also had the pleasure to watch the launch of the Apollo 11 mission from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.