Pioneering space journalist Jay Barbree died Friday, according to his former employer, NBC News. He was 87.
Barbree joined NBC News in 1958 and covered every non-commercial manned spaceflight in the US, from Freedom 7 to the final space shuttle mission. He worked for the network for nearly six decades.
In 1986, Barbree covered the doomed launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger and broke the news that investigators were focusing on damaged seals at the base of a solid rocket booster as the likely cause of the disaster.
A year later, Barbree suffered a massive heart attack that left him without a pulse for several minutes, Barbree said in his 2007 memoir, “Live from Cape Canaveral.” He spent several months recuperating. Because of the extended suspension of shuttle launches following the Challenger disaster, Barbree was able to return to work without missing a mission.
Barbree retired from NBC News in 2017. In addition to his television work, Barbree was the author of several books, including “Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America’s Race to the Moon,” written with astronaut Alan Shepard.