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Space journalist Howard Benedict dies


April 26, 2005 -- Howard Benedict, 77, known as the "dean" of space reporting and former Executive Director of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, died Monday, April 25, at his Florida home.

In the early years of the United States space program, Benedict introduced generations to space exploration, covering more than 2,000 missile and rocket launches as the senior aerospace writer for The Associated Press.

He covered the first 65 U.S. human space flights, from Alan Shepard's Mercury mission in 1961 to the 34th Space Shuttle mission in 1990, for 31 of the 37 years he worked for the wire service.

"Howard Benedict's professional life recorded the manned space program from its earliest days. Always fair and objective, his coverage became the standard for America and indeed for the world," said former U.S. Senator John Glenn and the first astronaut to orbit the Earth. "Howard became a loyal and wonderful, personal friend to me and to all the astronauts."

Benedict authored three books about the space program (NASA: A Quarter Century of Space Achievement in 1984; NASA: The Journey Continues in 1989; and At Home in Space in 1995) and in 1994 cowrote Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America's Race to the Moon with fellow reporter Jay Barbree and astronauts Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton.

In 1992, Benedict began inspiring a new generation by providing educational opportunities for college engineering and science students offered through the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. He retired as Executive Director of the ASF in 2004, but continued to serve on their Board of Directors.

"Howard's unwavering devotion and support of the foundation is a tribute to a man that that will live on for years. ASF is what it is today in great part to Howard and his steadfast dedication to the astronauts, their legacy and the scientists of the future that benefited from his many years of work," said astronaut James Lovell, ASF Chairman Emeritus. "We have not only lost a friend but we have lost a true champion."

One hundred and ninety six students reaped the benefit of Benedict's work. Under his tenure, the ASF disbursed over $2 million in scholarships.

"His work will live on as we continue with the programs that he and the other Mercury astronauts have initiated," said astronaut Owen Garriott, the Foundation Chairman.

Benedict is survived by his wife, Joy. Memorial service arrangements were pending.

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