Science and Exploration

Robert Farquhar 1932-2015

By Keith Cowing
October 18, 2015
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Robert Farquhar 1932-2015
Robert Farquhar

My friend Robert Farquhar left this life today. He orbited the sun 83 times. He was big on orbits and designed some of the most esoteric and complex spacecraft trajectories ever attempted which were executed with stunning precision.
Between ISEE-3’s crazy trips around the inner solar system to the recent flyby of Pluto, Bob had a hand in many missions.

The ISEE-3 Reboot effort during which I got to know Bob very well – was spawned by Bob’s relentless persistence and was the capstone to a career that spanned decades and saw into the future with immense precision. He was a hacker in his 80s and simply stunned some of the younger folks who worked on our team.

Bob was a steely-eyed missile man and a genuine space cowboy who always knew exactly how to get NASA to do what it needed to do – even if NASA did not know it at the time. Bob taught me that you are never too old to try new things and that being a pain in the ass serves a vital role in the exploration of space.

I went to visit Bob a week or so ago at home. He was weak but still smiled when I told him we had a date to go outside and wave at ISEE-3 when it flies by Earth again in 2029.

This graphic went out on the @ISEE3Reboot Twitter account today “I lost my human brother Bob Farquhar today. Although I don’t have a computer I will always remember him.”

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.