“From Sputnik to the International Space Station, Jay Barbree has seen it all, and reported it well. ‘Live from Cape Canaveral’ encapsulates the most technically exciting half century in history.” –Neil Armstrong
Some fifty years ago, while a cub reporter, Jay Barbree caught space fever the night that Sputnik passed over Georgia. He moved to the then-sleepy village of Cocoa Beach, Florida, right outside Cape Canaveral, and began reporting on rockets that fizzled as often as they soared. In "Live from Cape Canaveral," Barbree—the only reporter who has covered every mission flown by astronauts—offers his unique perspective on the space program. He shares affectionate portraits of astronauts as well as some of his fellow journalists and tells some very funny behind-the-scenes stories—many involving astronaut pranks. Barbree also shows how much the space program and its press coverage have changed over time. Warm and perceptive, he reminds us just how thrilling the great moments of the space race were and why America fell in love with its heroic, sometimes larger-than-life astronauts.
NBC TV reporter Barbree will be a familiar figure to many readers for his frequent appearances on the Today show and his decadeslong coverage of the space program. As a cub radio announcer in Georgia in the late 1950s, Barbree (coauthor of Moon Shot) realized the next big story was taking place on the rocket launch pad in Florida. He began a string of scoops early on when, hiding in a men's room stall, he heard that a satellite launch would carry the first broadcast from space, a recorded message from President Eisenhower. Barbree's inside access allows him to give pungent details: in 1961, "he astronauts' crew quarters... were smelly, military, uncomfortable and too damn close to the chimpanzees' colony" (a chimp having preceded man into space). While recounting the exploits of the early cowboy astronauts, he gives equal time to the tragedies of Apollo 1 and Challenger (he broke the story on the cause of the shuttle's disaster) and the near-tragedy of Apollo 13. Barbree writes with infectious enthusiasm about the glory days of space exploration, and his book will be an enjoyable introduction for a new generation and a fond remembrance for boomers.