After Nearly 60 Years of Covering Space, Jay Barbree is Retiring From NBC

By Chris Ariens 

One of the foremost reporters of the U.S. space program, Jay Barbree, is retiring from NBC News.

Barbree did his first live report for NBC News on July 21, 1958.

“In 1958, after serving in the Air Force, a young man caught the space bug and moved from his native Georgia to Cocoa Beach, Florida just outside Cape Canaveral,” writes NBC evp David Verdi in a note to staff, announcing Barbree’s retirement. “The Russians had just launched Sputnik, the space race was on, and Jay joined NBC News to begin reporting on space travel and the lives of Astronauts, a new breed of American heroes.”


Barbree, 83, is the only journalist who has covered all of the USA’s manned space missions and many robotic missions as well. He has reported from Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center on all the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions as well as all 135 Space Shuttle missions.

In 1969, Barbree was part of the team that won an Emmy for NBC News’ coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.  In 1986, following the Challenger disaster, he broke the news that it was faulty O-rings that caused the fatal accident.

Barbree is also the author of several books, including Pilot Error which was based on an episode of the TV series, The Six Million Dollar Man.