DR. ROBERT L. FORWARD robert forward bob forward


Dr. Robert L. Forward was told, on May 27, that he had terminal melanoma in both body and brain, and could expect to live no more than three or four months. Undergoing chemotherapy and radiation might possibly extend that term slightly. He opted to try them, and immediately began work on the things he wanted most to complete. Foremost among these was the writing of his autobiography, because not only did he want to share what he considered to have been an exciting life, he wanted to teach, one more time, the aspects of science that he hoped others would be eager to continue.

Unfortunately, the treatments were to no avail. They made him ill and weakened him further, and very soon he could not write with a pen nor on the computer. He turned to dictation on a tape recorder, and did his best to edit the results.

In addition, he traveled to Indianapolis to present two papers to the International Aeronautical and Astrophysical Association convening there in July.  He traveled to the far north of Scotland, to close down and sell the holiday house he had there. He organized his family finances and established a family Trust to care for his wife. He was able to spend private time with each of his children, who visited him on Whidbey Island from their own homes far away.  He wrote the obituary notices he wanted to appear for him.  He arranged for all of his scientific papers to be safely archived at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, with the assistance of Dr. Clark Hawk, so that his work would be accessible to anyone who could use it.  He met with the people at Tethers Unlimited, the company he owned and operated with Dr. Robert Hoyt in Lynnwood, to close down his own part of the company and to speak of its future. And he addressed personal notes to many of his friends and colleagues.  This was a tremendous amount of work for a dying man to accomplish within weeks.

But the most important thing, in his own mind, was the writing of this autobiography. This would have been a wonderful project for years of work, and he would have enjoyed it immensely. However, he insisted that the few chapters he was able to produce should, flawed though they are, be made available.  Links to this final work are posted below..

Dr. Forward died at home in the early hours of September 21, 2002.

FAST FORWARD FIFTY YEARS -- The final writings of Dr. Forward -- approximately 25 pages, single-spaced

In HTML (viewed in your browser)

Download as an .RTF file (can be opened by almost any word processor)

A list of Dr. Forward's patents

Music: "Fantasia for a Visionary" created for Dr. Forward by Frank Becker (MP3 format) (c) 2002 by Frank Becker Music (12 minutes, 11MB)

Video:  Dr. Forward's interview regarding space tether construction for a documentary on Virginia Harvey


Dr. Forward's works are currently archived at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.  Those wishing to help maintain this archive are invited to make a donation by clicking here.