Suggested Searches

Jack King

Jack King

Public Affairs, NASA

Jack King has one of the most recognizable voices in the world today because he was the NASA commentator who counted down the first space mission to land men on the moon. The original broadcast of that launch and the subsequent replays have reached the ears of more than a billion people, some of them many times.

King was the chief of the public information office at the time and had held that position since the Mercury days. He was selected for the position based on his experience as the space reporter and bureau chief for the Associated Press Cape Canaveral Bureau from 1958 to 1959.

Not long after Apollo 11, King was promoted to director of public affairs for NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. There he had a wider responsibility than just media service. He directed a staff of 25 in a program that also included education outreach, exhibit programs, astronaut appearances and inter-governmental/community relations. He was also a member of the three-man team that negotiated the joint information plan for the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Apollo-Soyuz mission, resulting in the first live television coverage of a Russian rocket launch.

In 1975, he moved to Washington as director of public affairs for the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration to develop an agencywide program in solar, fossil and nuclear energy.

Leaving government service in 1977, King went to work for Armand Hammer and Occidental International Corporation where he developed and implemented a wide-ranging public relations program of international scope. He also served as the chairman’s speech writer and coordinator of media events in connection with his numerous travels abroad, as well as, philanthropic activities. He represented Occidental Petroleum to the East Coast news media, as well.

After Hammer’s death he went to work for the Powell Tate strategic communications firm as a vice president in their Washington office where he served as a specialist on defense, space technology and energy issues. He participated in the successful media campaigns promoting the McDonnell Douglas C-17 transport aircraft, the Northrop Grumman B-2 bomber and Westinghouse nuclear technology.

Trying retirement in 1996, King found he liked to work and liked life in Florida. He was hired by the new company United Space Alliance (USA), a company owned equally by Lockheed Martin and Rockwell (subsequently Boeing), to maintain and prepare space shuttles for launch at Kennedy. Since then he has represented the company to the media and community. As communications advocate for USA’s Florida Operations, he assisted in maintaining the internal communication program.

A native of Boston, King graduated from Boston College and has been honored numerous times. He was posthumously awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award bestowed by the agency. It is awarded to those who personally made a contribution so extraordinary that other forms of recognition would be inadequate.

He was a two-time recipient of the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and winner of the Aviation/Space Writer’s Lawrence Award as the outstanding U.S. government public information officer in 1969. In 2000 he was one of the first two recipients of the Harry Kolcum Memorial News and Communications Award presented by the National Space Club Florida Committee, recognizing the highest standards in journalism and public affairs work.

King retired from USA in October 2010, but continued to serve as a NASA public affairs volunteer.

A widower, King and his wife, Evelyn were married 39 years prior to her death in 2005. They had three children and five grandchildren.