Howard Benedict, 77, who chronicled America's journey into space during three decades as aerospace writer for the Associated Press, was found dead of natural causes Monday at his home in Cocoa, Fla.
In his 37 years with AP, he covered more than 2,000 missile and rocket launches, including 65 human flights from Alan Shepard's historic "Light this candle!" ride in 1961 to the 34th shuttle mission in 1990.
Mr. Benedict had been ill in recent years but continued to work for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, which he headed for more than a decade.
As the dean of space writing, Mr. Benedict developed terminology to explain his subject in everyday English. For instance, he used "orbits" instead of the official "revs" or "revolutions" for circling the Earth, and introduced to the general public such early space terms as "retrofire," "multistage rockets" and "rendezvous," which referred to two spacecraft meeting in space.
Mr. Benedict wrote four books on space, including Moon Shot in 1994, which he co-wrote with Mr. Shepard and Deke Slayton, both Mercury astronauts, and journalist Jay Barbree.