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 background, 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 and sculptural 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."
Space Model Systems Inc. is an outgrowth of the space and science fiction art studio operation started by Rick Sternbach. SMS Inc. is dedicated to providing unique model and art products to the space science community, the space educator, the collector, and the hobbyist. The product line includes plaque-mounted terrain models, planetary globes, asteroid and comet models, spacecraft kits and detailing parts, and decals for historical and speculative space vehicles. Custom projects involving space vehicles and astronomical subjects can also be handled by SMS, with additional art talent brought in as required; all affiliated artists have extensive knowledge of and a keen interest in astronomy and aerospace engineering. SMS officially began operation November 1, 2004, but the experience of its founder and affiliated artists and modelmakers stretches back some 30 years.
Rick is the co-author with Michael Okuda of the "Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual" and the author of the "U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D Blueprints." Rick is also co-author, along with Herman Zimmerman and Doug Drexler, of the "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual."