Rick Sternbach has been a space and science fiction artist since the early 1970s, often combining both interests in a project. He has done book and magazine illustrations for works by Asimov, Heinlein, Anderson, Benford, Niven, White, Pohl, Bear, Brunner, Hamilton, Tiptree, Williamson, Schmidt and others. Rick won the Best Professional Artist Hugo Award in 1977 and 1978. His space art clients include NASA, Sky and Telescope, Data Products, Random House, Smithsonian, 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. He received an Emmy Award for the visual effects for Cosmos: On the Shores of the Cosmic Ocean.
With the rebirth of Star Trek, beginning with Star Trek: 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 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager to his space craft inventory, and kept his hand in real space design with NASA's Ares IV Mars orbiter (blessed by planetary scientist Dr. Bruce Murray).