Robert E. Huffman, Ph.D.
Adventures of a Star Warrior
Cold War Rocket Science on the
Adventures of a Star Warrior
is Dr. Robert E. Huffman's
fast-paced and inspiring space science memoir. Chronicling a career
that spanned Sputnik to the Space Shuttle and Star Wars, Bob Huffman
tells of his unique odyssey from the laboratory to the launch pad.
Loaded with history, humor, and human drama, here are back room deals
at the Pentagon, liftoffs that don't lift off (as well as many that
do), and high-altitude heroics on the Space Shuttle. Along for the ride
are an unlikely collection of scientists, astronauts, soldiers, and
bureaucrats who somehow made possible the exploration of Earth's
Read a sample chapter from Adventures of a Star Warrior here.
This is an insider's account of the military-industrial complex. Huffman was one of the thousands of Cold War "rocket scientists" who worked day and night towards the development of U.S. space defense systems. Adventures of a Star Warrior, however, is not really about science or engineering. Rather, it is a book about entrepreneurship, project management, and politics. Further, Huffman writes candidly about his thoughts and feelings: we learn about euphoric moments (a successful launch, a paper featured on the cover of an important scientific journal) as well as those of disappointment and frustration (the failure of a piece of equipment; being passed over for a leadership position). The book is funny and tender, honest, and interesting. In short, it is a fascinating, useful book. I hope that Huffman's account will inspire others to document their work as it would have a salutary effect on our understanding of the role of military R&D in the late 20th century.
- Deborah Douglas, Curator of Science and Technology, MIT Museum. Author of American Women and Flight since 1940
As a university professor, I especially enjoyed this book for the insight it gives on the culture of funded scientific studies. The focus is not on the science itself, but rather on the bureaucratic and political intrigues that are part and parcel of getting large scientific projects to succeed. In this book, young scientists can learn a lot about the process of science -- how scientific work in a large project actually gets done, which is something not taught in college courses. And the book is a true pleasure to read, witty at times, and always engaging, as we follow Dr. Huffman's adventures in planning, overseeing, and dealing with the spectacular successes and failures of the various rocket experiments. At one level this is a very well-written personal account of one scientist's professional adventures. But its true value goes beyond the personal, and speaks to the culture of scientific programs. These efforts are seen ultimately to be human enterprises, with all the messiness that implies.
- Richard Quimby, Department of Physics, Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Author of Photonics and Lasers: An Introduction
I remember Bob Huffman as a slightly older cousin of mine, the son of Adra Huffman of Breckenridge, Texas. Their family would occasionally visit our farm near Fort Worth, Texas. As years went by, Bob became one of my greatest supporters and the inspiration for my career as a scientist - in my case a physicist. He graduated as valedictorian from Texas A&M in 1953, the year I entered as a freshman. That honor was awe-inspiring enough, but was followed by his Ph.D. work at Caltech, arguably the most prestigious of universities in science. I marveled at his tales of personal interaction with 20th century icons of science like physicist Richard Feynman and chemist Linus Pauling. I was privileged also to visit him in the hallowed halls of Caltech and later at the famous Cambridge Research Labs where he spent his working career. When I had my moment of fame in 1990 with the co-discovery of the third crystalline form of carbon - solid C60 - and the production of buckyballs in bulk, Bob was a proud supporter as several international prizes were awarded and a NOVA television production was released. I urge scientists and non-scientists alike to read Adventures of a Star Warrior and enjoy the excitement and uncertainties of Bob's tales of rocket launches for scientific purposes, as well as the daily joys and frustrations of a working scientist.
- Donald R. Huffman, Regents Professor Emeritus, Department of Physics, University of Arizona. Author of Absorption and Scattering of Light by Small Particles
entry on Dr. Robert E. Huffman
Last Updated: June 22, 2020
Site maintained by Rob Huffman
Photos: Aerobee rocket, Project Chaser, Vandenberg AFB; Dr. Huffman's laboratory at Hanscom AFB