Edward Shelby Hickey, 50, an executive, foreign correspondent and writer in the Voice of America's news division since 1966, died at his home in Alexandria Tuesday following an apparent heart attack.

Mr. Hickey was most recently deputy chief of the VOA news division and his reponsibilities included administration and planning. He joined the organization as a news writer, became a broadcaster, and served as anchor man for the VOA live coverage of the first lunar landings. He also helped cover several other space events.

In 1963 he opened VOA's first West Africa bureau in Lagos, Nigeria.From then until 1970, when he returned to headquarters in Washington, he was stationed in Lagos or Vietnam, where he had several extended assignments.

The son of an Army officer and a native of San Benito, Tex, Mr. Hickey attended the Military Academy at West Point. He later attended the University of Vienna in Asutria and the University of San Francisco.

He began his broadcasting career as an editor and announcer for the Blue Danube network in Salzburg, Austria, from 1947 to 1949. He was an officer in the Army from 1950 to 1954 and served in Europe. He then became radio director for the National Council of Catholic Men in Washington until he joined the VOA.

Survivors include his wife, Joan, and three sons, Kevin, Joseph and Paul, all of Fairfax; his father, retired Army Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Hickey, of Arlington; two sisters, Bea Kennard of Laurel, and Mary Keenan, of Wilmington, N.C., and brother, Col. Joseph Hickey, of Pittsburgh.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to CARE in memory of Edward S. Hickey.