In the early years of the U.S. 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.
Benedict authored three books ( "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 ( ASF ). One hundred and ninety six students reaped the benefit of his tireless efforts and dedication. Under his tenure, the Foundation disbursed over $2 million in scholarships. He retired as Executive Director of the ASF in 2004, but continued to serve on its Board of Directors and committees.
He is survived by his wife Joy. Memorial service arrangements are being made.
Astronauts Remember Benedict:
Scott Carpenter ( Mercury Astronaut, ASF Director ): Howard Benedict will always be with us. He was always an inspiration. Now when remembering him, we will continue to be inspired. With his guidance, the Astronaut Hall of Fame and Astronaut Scholarship Foundation flourished. He will be truly missed.
Bob Crippen ( Shuttle Astronaut and ASF Vice Chairman ): Howard was a great voice for the Space Program and the driving force behind the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. He'll be sorely missed by all.
John Glenn ( Mercury/Shuttle Astronaut, ASF Director ): 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. Retirement was not a real word for Howard. His leadership of AHOF and ASF resulted in help for many, many students whose studies would have otherwise ended. Quiet, friendly and unassuming, Howard became a loyal and wonderful, personal friend to me and to all the astronauts. He lived a most productive life and we will miss him very much. Thoughts and prayers go out to Joy.
James Lovell ( Gemini and Apollo Astronaut, ASF Chairman Emeritus ): I am truly saddened by the recent death of my friend and colleague Howard Benedict. I have known Howard for over 30 years, first meeting him when I was still in the space program. But more recently I have work closely with him on the ASF board. 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. We have not only lost a friend but we have lost a true champion.