Distinguished Alumni Awards

Robert W. Farquhar

Robert W. Farquhar

For his deep space missions to asteroids and comets and for leading the NEAR mission to Eros.

Executive for Space Exploration, KinetX, Inc.
Former Missions Definition Manager and Flight Director, NASA

  • BS, 1959, Aeronautical Engineering, University of Illinois
  • MS, 1961, Engineering, University of California-Los Angeles
  • PhD, 1969, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University

As a 50-year veteran of space exploration, Robert W. Farquhar has demonstrated a sense of leadership that is recognized both nationally and internationally for his work with deep space missions and for his distinguished record of service with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Farquhar got his start in the summer of 1959 at the RAND Corporation working on interplanetary trajectories.  From there he went to Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in 1961 where he worked on dynamics and control libration-point satellites and assisted with the preparation of the Interplanetary Flight Handbook for NASA.

A 24-year veteran of NASA, Farquhar served as flight director for the International Sun-Earth Explorer-3/International Cometary Explorer (ISEE-3/ICE) Mission and the Halley Comet Mission, as well as a definition manager for a dozen other missions out of the Goddard Space Flight Center. Farquhar’s knowledge of halo orbits, a term he coined in his 1969 dissertation, was critical in calculating trajectory for the successful ISEE-3/ICE Mission. Later Farquhar was the program manager of the Discovery Program.

Following his career at NASA, Farquhar spent 17 years at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory while continuing to lead deep space missions, including the NEAR mission to Eros, which launched in 1996.

Farquhar served as Charles A. Lindbergh Chair for Aerospace History at the National Air and Space Museum from 2007-08 where he was commissioned to write the memoir, Fifty Years on the Space Frontier.  He subsequently joined KinetX Inc., as executive for space exploration.

From 2006-08, Farquhar served as chairman for the International Academy of Astronautics in studying the next steps for human space exploration. He received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Department of Aerospace Engineering in 1981 and was elected to National Academy of Engineering in 2012.