Ed Buckbee, an author, lecturer, space advocate and director emeritus, has been associated with the U.S. space program for four decades. Buckbee began his space career in 1959 when America’s first Mercury astronauts were selected. He attended the launches of Alan Shepard and John Glenn and was present when the Apollo astronauts lifted-off for the moon landings. He continues to be associated with America’s space program as an advocate of human space flight.
A journalism-business management major, Buckbee is a distinguished graduate of the P.I. Reed School of Journalism, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV. He was commissioned as an U.S. Army officer in 1958. He served at the U. S. Army Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, AL and U. S. Special Forces, Ft. Bragg, NC. In 1961 he transferred to the newly formed NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center where he worked for rocket scientist Wernher von Braun. As a NASA public affairs officer, he worked with all the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts.
In 1970, he was selected by von Braun to be the first director of the Space & Rocket Center. Buckbee is the visionary who assembled and managed the world’s largest space and rocket exhibition and founder of the highly successful U.S. Space Camp and Aviation Challenge programs located in Huntsville, AL. Under Buckbee’s management, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and U.S. Space Camp programs grew to a $25 million business. Over 500,000 students and teachers from seventy countries have been inspired and motivated by attending programs Buckbee developed.
Working with Mercury Seven astronauts--Alan Shepard, Wally Schirra, John Glenn, Deke Slayton, Gus Grissom, Gordon Cooper and Scott Carpenter--Buckbee conceived and developed the first exhibition telling the story of America’s astronauts at the U.S. Astronaut Hall Fame and Space Camp near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida. He created International Space Camp to promote international cooperation in space and organized Space Camps in Japan, Belgium, Italy and Canada.
Retiring from the U.S. Space & Rocker Center in 1994, Buckbee has produced and hosted numerous space anniversary events acknowledging famous firsts in human space flight, honoring astronaut John Glenn and moon walkers Alan Shepard, Alan Bean, Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt. He organized and hosted the 30th anniversary celebration of the astronauts who flew on America's first space station, Skylab and served as the moderator of the Wernher von Braun Forums at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and the Flight Jacket Forum at the National Air and Space Museum. Currently he serves as the moderator for “ Meet the Real Space Cowboys” forums sponsored by Omega watch.
Buckbee is the past president of the NASA Alumni and recipient of several national awards including the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, Department of Army Distinguished Civilian Service Award, Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Medal, National Space Club Media Award and Jimmy Doolittle Award. He has edited and contributed to several publications, including, “50 Years of Rockets and Spacecraft .” He collaborated with his long time friend, the late Wally Schirra, on a book entitled, “The REAL Space Cowboys,” a tribute to the Mercury astronauts. His recent work includes a video documentary and an exhibition on the career of “Wernher von Braun-The Rocket Man”. Buckbee served as technical advisor on “Space Camp”, an ABC produced motion picture released internationally in theaters and on video. A sought after spokesman and advocate for NASA and the exploration of space, Buckbee has appeared on CNN, Late Night with David Letterman, Good Morning America, Today, Discovery, History Channel, and BBC- TV.
As president of Ed Buckbee & Associates, he continues to develop, promote and present programs to increase the public’s understanding of the U.S. role in technology programs. He strives to increase public awareness of the need to educationally prepare our nations’ youth to enter fields of emerging technology; thus ensuring the U.S. remains the global leader in technology and human exploration of space.