Rick Sternbach has been a space and science fiction artist since the early 1970s, often combining both interests in a project. His clients include NASA, Sky and Telescope, Data Products, Random House, Smithsonian, Analog, Astronomy, The Planetary Society, and Time-Life Books. He is a founding member and Fellow of the International Association of Astronomical Artists (IAAA), which was formed in 1981. He has written and illustrated articles on orbital transfer vehicles and interstellar flight for Science Digest. Beginning in the late 1970s Rick added film and television illustration and special effects to his repertoire, with productions like Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Last Starfighter, Future Flight, and Cosmos, for which he and other members of the astronomical art team received an Emmy award, the first for visual effects. Rick also twice received the coveted Hugo award for best professional science fiction artist, in 1977 and 1978.
With the rebirth of Star Trek, beginning with The Next Generation, Rick was one of the first employees hired to update the Trek universe. He created new spacecraft, tricorders, phasers, and hundreds of other props and set pieces. Using pencil, pen, and computer, Rick added Deep Space Nine and Voyager to his spacecraft inventory, and kept his hand in real space design with Voyager’s Ares IV Mars orbiter (blessed by planetary scientist Dr. Bruce Murray). Rick contributed graphic designs for the Star Trek Nemesis feature film, including the new Romulan bird of prey and Senate chamber floor. He also provided computer playback graphics and animation elements for Steven Soderbergh’s Solaris.
In 2004 Rick initiated Space Model Systems an outgrowth of his space and science fiction art studio operation. SMS has been dedicated to providing unique model and art products to the space science community, the space educator, collector, and hobbyist. Physical terrains and globes of Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Saturn’s moon Iapetus were produced for the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, for their Gunther Depths of Space exhibit. Digital renderings of the Cosmos 1 solar sail were done for the Planetary Society, along with composited images of a sixteen square foot scale model of their revised Lightsail 1. In addition, a scale model of a proposed asteroid retrieval spacecraft was built for the Keck Institute for Space Studies. Most recently, Rick was included in the special committee advising the National Air & Space Museum on the restoration and conservation of the eleven foot Starship U.S.S. Enterprise filming miniature.