Space Expert Ed Buckbee visits Potomac State

Ed Buckbee

Ed Buckbee, who worked with NASA for more than four decades, is pictured with Cassandra Pritts, a history instructor at Potomac State College of West Virginia University. Buckbee spoke with students at his alma mater about the importance of an education.

Ed Buckbee, who served as the first director of the U. S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., recently stopped by his alma mater, Potomac State College of West Virginia University (WVU), to speak to students about the importance of an education. A native of Romney, W.Va., Buckbee graduated from Potomac State in 1956.  

While visiting the classes, Buckbee relayed stories about his experiences at the College and throughout his career. He spoke about professors who influenced his college life and beyond, like Dr. Murphy, who helped him understand geology and Dr. Atwater, who encouraged him to seek a career in journalism when all he wanted was to play baseball. He also conveyed the excitement of being present for all of the historical space launches including Mercury, Gemini and the Apollo moon landings, and of working with Astronauts Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Wally Schirra, and the renowned Wernher von Braun, considered to be the greatest rocket scientist in history.   

Buckbee began his career with NASA in 1959, after earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the WVU Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism in 1958.  

A few of Buckbee’s most noted accomplishments include: being the visionary and founder of the U.S. Space Camp and Aviation Challenge programs; he conceived the International Space Camp to promote international cooperation in space and successfully opened similar operations in Florida, Japan, Canada and Belgium; and he also envisioned and developed the “Famous First” exhibit which tells the story of the Mercury astronauts at the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Buckbee has served as an author, lecturer, space expert and director emeritus. He has been associated with America’s space program for four decades, is a spokesman and advocate for NASA and the exploration of space, and worked as an international consultant.

He was awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the Department of Army Distinguished Civilian Service Award and the Alumni Achievement Award at Potomac State.

Wrapping up his presentation to the students, Buckbee urged students to “… aim high, because you never know where you’ll land!”