Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty
Robert Forward

Robert Forward

Dr. Robert L. Forward (August 15, 1932–September 21, 2002) was an American physicist and science fiction writer. His literary work was noted for its scientific credibility and use of ideas developed from his career as an aerospace engineer. He earned his doctorate from the University of Maryland in 1965, after which he went to work at the research labs of Hughes Aircraft, where he received 18 patents. He took early retirement in 1987 to focus on his fiction writing and consulting for such clients as NASA and the U.S. Air Force. In 1994, he co-founded the company Tethers Unlimited, Inc. with Robert P. Hoyt, where he served as Chief Scientist and Chairman until 2002.

Much of his research focused on the leading edges of speculative physics but was always grounded in what he believed humans could accomplish. He worked on such projects as space tethers and space fountains, solar sails (including Starwisp), antimatter propulsion, and other spacecraft propulsion technologies, and did further research on more esoteric possibilities such as time travel and negative matter. He was issued a patent for the statite, and contributed to a concept to drain the Van Allen Belts.

In addition to more than 200 papers and articles, he published 11 novels. Forward also co-authored two novels with his wife, Martha Dodson Forward, and two additional novels with his second daughter Julie Fuller. Forward also helped Larry Niven calculate the parameters of the Smoke Ring for his novel The Integral Trees.

In 2001, Forward received a diagnosis of terminal cancer which gave him enough time remaining to make his farewells and settle any unfinished projects. He died in his home in Seattle, WA on September 21, 2002. In his final months he rushed to try and finish his autobiography; what he was able to put together before his death has been made available at his request at

Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis


Advocate for Space!

Fifteen years ago, Society members and passionate space advocates like you helped save the Pluto mission. Now we can do the same for missions to Europa and Mars.

Join over 27,600 people who have completed their petition and consider a donation to support advocacy efforts.

Sign Our Petition

Featured Video

MISSIONS: Dawn In The Asteroid Belt With Marc Rayman

Watch Now

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Selfies to Space!

Take flight with a selfie on LightSail™ in 2016!

Send a Selfie Now

Connect With Us

Facebook! Twitter! Google+ and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!