Tag Archives: Kennedy Space Center

Life During Covid-19 Part 11

8 May

Another Sunday Drive

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

Before I begin to recount my week, let me say that Thursday was a beautiful Florida day. The temperature didn’t move out of the 70s and there was a nice breeze. These days are rare in May and I savored it.

Sunday began as usual during this pandemic. I woke earlier than the family as I wanted to catch one of our local churches 8:15 am service. It’s very contemporary and I don’t think I would enjoy being in attendance at the service, but I do enjoy the pastor’s messages and I admire how the church serves our community.

My husband wasn’t feeling the best so we didn’t make any plans for the rest of the day. The milkweed our daughter planted last year had been visited by caterpillars this spring. We think Sunday was the coming out day of a beautiful monarch. According to fellow blogger, Melody Hendrix, a newly emerged butterfly will remain motionless on a leaf as it drys its new wings. Rebekah was able to get a beautiful photo.

Rebekah’s gardenia bush is blooming and was visited as well.

Late in the afternoon, my husband perked up and we decided to explore Peacock’s Pocket, a road in the marsh that we missed last week. The road was a lot wider and less rough than last week…at least in the beginning.

This drive took us quite close to Kennedy Space Center and we had several views of the VAB-Vehicle Assembly Building, where spacecraft from Mercury to the space shuttles were processed.

Peacock’s Pocket road ended at the Indian River with a wide turn around area. Several people were fishing and one family complete with a dog had set up a canopy for shade and were hanging out together.

We have lived near the banks of the Indian River with its view of the space center for 49 years and I haven’t tired of it. I appreciate the blending of nature and space technology.

We couldn’t end the drive without a father/daughter photo. The sun was shining in their faces and I was not their favorite person at that moment. I think my husband has decided to not shave until the travel restrictions are lifted!

Monday our daughter received an email announcing the opening of one of her favorite shops. She needed a throw rug for the kitchen floor she and her father had installed and was happy to get the news. I went along to the store as well as her decor consultant. Since it is a small store, I wore a mask and armed myself with hand sanitizer.

And that pretty much sums up my week’s outings except for Wednesday grocery shopping. For reading, I finished a cheesy Regency audio book ( my antidote to the toxic political climate) and started book two in a mystery series written by a local author. I’ve begun a new evening devotional read titled, Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson, The 40 Day Prayer Challenge. I had been wanting to read it for quite some time. I am on day 8 and am enjoying the insights on prayer.

I would like to wish a happy Mother’s Day to each of the moms out there and if your mother is alive, cherish her and make he feel special. Trust me, you will miss her more than you can imagine when she is gone.

I'm a winnerAfter my retirement, I decided to re-learn the canning and preserving skills I learned from my mother but hadn’t practiced for twenty years. I titled the blog Old Things R New to chronicle my experience.  Since then I have been blessed to have six other bloggers join me, DiVoran Lites, Bill Lites,  Judy Wills, Louise Gibson, Janet Perez Eckles and Melody Hendrix

In addition to blogging, I work as the publicist/marketer/ amateur editor and general  “mom Friday” for my author daughter, Rebekah Lyn. I also manage her website, Rebekah Lyn Books  where we frequently host the best in up and coming authors.

My 2019 goal is to use my love of photographs and words to be an encourager on social media. You can visit Real Life Books and Media You Tube Channel if you would like to view some of the mini-videos I have created for our church, Gateway Community in Titusville, Fl.

Small Town Life

27 Feb

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

I love living in a small town but it does mean that sometimes when one needs to see a specialist, it involves a drive. This morning was one of those appointments. The trip was uneventful, no traffic snarls and we arrived 10 minutes early. So off to a good start.

For over a week I have been having some concern that my eye pressure might be elevated. I had placed a call to the nearest office of my cornea specialist and left a message. No one returned my call and that was unusual. My cornea specialist no longer has office hours in our town, but there are several offices between the location of my morning appointment and our route home. I tried calling two of them but the automatic system dropped my calls. We decided to drop in to the first office we came to and ask for a pressure check appointment. Over the past week I had been self diagnosing…it’s allergies, a sinus issue, or it’s Rosacea. It was time to stop being foolish and risking my vision.

They were kind and offered to work me in. I knew that meant a considerable wait, but I was thankful to be seen. And I was right, something was wrong. I left with a new regimen of eye drops and a follow up appointment.

We still had two errands left to take care of before we made it home. We were ready for lunch!

After supper we scooted in to Aldi to pick up a couple of items. It was a beautiful evening so we drove down to a small park on the Indian River. The eastern sky colors were beautiful. I got out of the car to snap some photos with my phone. I am so very thankful for the medical care that allows me to continue to enjoy God’s beautiful handiwork.

I'm a winnerAfter my retirement, I decided to re-learn the canning and preserving skills I learned from my mother but hadn’t practiced for twenty years. I titled the blog Old Things R New to chronicle my experience.  Since then I have been blessed to have six other bloggers join me, DiVoran Lites, Bill Lites,  Judy Wills, Louise Gibson, Janet Perez Eckles and Melody Hendrix

In addition to blogging, I work as the publicist/marketer/ amateur editor and general  “mom Friday” for my author daughter, Rebekah Lyn. I also manage her website, Rebekah Lyn Books  where we frequently host the best in up and coming authors.

My 2019 goal is to use my love of photographs and words to be an encourager on social media. You can visit Real Life Books and Media You Tube Channel if you would like to view some of the mini-videos I have created for our church, Gateway Community in Titusville, Fl.

Seeking Peace-No Matter What

1 Mar

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis


Every time I read this verse it resonates in my soul.

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

—HABAKKUK 3:17–18

Today I was blessed to enjoy a picnic lunch with precious friends at a new park on the river. My happy places always involve water or mountains. There is something elemental in them that calls to me and soothes.


Today the humidity was high and a haze blurred the V.A.B. (Vehicle Assembly Building) that stands proudly across the river at Kennedy Space Center. I love the swings. Tonight this small park will be jammed with locals and out-of-town folks, hoping to witness the first flight of the Space X crew module.


UPDATE ON SPACE X Launch:  We got up at 2AM to view from the river. Liftoff was exactly on time, the rumble was a roaring success. Heat lightning flashed behind the rocket, adding drama.  Loved it.



After lunch  my husband and I drove the road to Playalinda Beach to get photos of the rocket on the pad. The beach road crosses marsh and if you like that sort of thing as I do, it was peaceful and beautiful.

Love- Experiencing the love of friends who accept me with all my flaws and models Christ’s love for me.

Joy- Being rooted and grounded in No Matter What.

Peace- Savoring the beauty that God created in nature and in friends.

The Best Job I Ever Had~Part 3

29 Oct

A Slice of Life

By Bill Lites

Bill Lites

Bill Lites


One of the largest assignments I was responsible for was the 1st /2nd stage separation system. This system was used in two places on the S-II stage of the Saturn V launch vehicle; to separate the first stage S-IC from the second stage S-II, and again 30 seconds later, to separate the protective S-II Interstage from around the S-II engines. The S-IC and S-II stages were both 33 feet in diameter, so the test fixture used to test the full scale separation system was massive.



The test fixture was designed to lift a simulated section of the separation plane off the ground so that when the explosive system fired, the lower portion could be photographed while it fell to the ground. This was the closest we could come to simulating the actual event, and we learned several important things from these tests that would drive the final design of the separation system itself. The first thing we discovered, was that the originally designed charge assembly would warp as it was unreeled from the installation spool, making it difficult to keep it lying flat on the tension plates it had to cut. Next, we found out that any amount of water between the charge assembly and the tension plate would diffuse the cutting ability of the explosive. The Los Angeles fog taught us this fact. This happened when we installed the separation system one day for a full-scale test the next day, and when the fog rolled in that night, the moisture ran down the stringers, onto the tension plates, and collected in the “V” of the shaped charge in several places. The final design consisted of a vinyl wrapped charge assembly that kept the moisture out of the cutting area, and a retention system that held the charge assembly tight against the tension plates. The manufacturer of the charge assembly also supplied a disposable holder that kept it from warping as it came off the installation spool.



This separation system did not use a large size explosive charge, but because it had to cut the 216 tension straps around the 103 foot outside circumference of the vehicle, it ended up being a large explosion. After the first three tests, we had to move the entire test fixture to an El Centro desert facility because of complaints from the local Downey, CA residents.


After finalizing the ordnance systems testing for the Apollo and Saturn S-II vehicles, I was transferred to the NAA Field Operations Group and moved to Florida in 1965 to be one of the Field Test Engineers responsible for the processing and installation of many of those same ordnance systems I had tested in California. My job now was to write the procedures for, and supervise the processing and installation of, these flight ordnance systems on the Saturn S-II launch vehicle that helped boost the Apollo Astronauts and their spacecraft to the Moon. What a thrill it was to be able to watch that giant 363 foot high Saturn V launch vehicle lift off, in all its glory, and see those systems work as they had been designed and tested. But of course, as it turned out, that job wasn’t near as much fun as the job of blowing up those system test specimens back in the early days at the home plant (Will I ever grow out of being a kid?).



You may have seen the picture below or a video clip of it in an Apollo documentary or an advertisement, but this was the S-II Interstage falling away from the S-II Stage booster 30 seconds after separation from the S-IC stage, which occurred during each Apollo/Saturn V launch from the Kennedy Space Center.



Most people have no idea how many unseen systems have to work perfectly, and in the proper sequence, during any rocket launch. I still get thrilled every time I watch a video of one of the Apollo/Saturn V launches, and see each of the many ordnance systems function as they were designed. And, it’s gratifying to know that I played a small part in that historical program to place the very first men on the moon.






—–The End—–


Getting More Than You Give

1 Sep

My Take

DiVoran Lites

Author, Poet and ArtistThe Holy Bible, reminds us that when we give, God returns our gifts in such abundance that we can barely receive them all.

Lately, we’ve been hanging out with different kinds of volunteers, and we’ve seen for ourselves that those who give the most, get the most, not necessarily in material possessions, but in things that mean so much more, such as joy, peace, grace, and unexpected miracles.

Last Thursday, Bill and I attended a University of Central Florida (UCF) Alumni Volunteer awards banquet. I was honored to be asked to condense the bios that would be read at the ceremony. That allowed me to know the nominees better even though I had not met them. It gave an extra edge to my enjoyment of the evening. Of course, being a typical writer, I took mental notes of how I could do better next time.

The UCF mascot is a knight. When a graduate does something notable with his life, he can be nominated for the annual Notable Knight award and designation. Christine F., a nurse practitioner was one of the runners up. She travels from one facility to another tending to the needs of aging and post-surgical clients. She goes to bat for her patients — whatever they need. Bill C. the other runner up, took a central role in the modernization and refurbishment of the Launch Facilities at Kennedy Space Center. Notable Knight, 2014, is Mitch V. the man who changed the Space Coast’s reputation, helping students from all over America by putting on marathons and triathlons to take the place of other less than beneficial pursuits at spring break. Christine, Bill C. and Mitch all make community service an integral part of their lives.

Then there were the scholarships presented to students who excelled at leadership, community service and academics. This year’s nominees came from the fields of medicine and education, but it was apparent from reading the applications that they could do anything they set their minds to.

One graduate who had been awarded scholarships before, returned to thank the UCF Alumni for helping her get all the way through school to the place where she is now – working on her PhD Program. She will be serving the needs of abused children, a tribe she knows well, as she was once one of them.

The people at the ceremony were wonderful, not only the honorees, but also the members of the UCF Space Coast Alumni who raised funds, organized the attendees, interfaced with the caterer, and took care of all the red tape and details that come with event planning. They create and join in many other volunteer events during the year and having known some of them, I know they are truly blessed in return.

UCF copy


“Bring all the tithes (a tenth of our money and time) into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” Malachi 3:10

Working Together

11 Nov

My Take

DiVoran Lites

IAuthor, Poet and Artistt’s so great to work with other people. It’s one of my favorite things in the whole world. I’ll always remember when a friend came over and we made candles in paper milk cartons out of ice, paraffin, and crayons for Christmas. There was another time when a different friend and I made jelly together, and then there was that time when Bill’s sister, Judy, showed me how to make her special yeast dinner roles from scratch.

It sounds like most of my together times have been in the kitchen. I guess you could say the one today was in the kitchen as my office is part of the family room which is part of the kitchen. But it didn’t really have anything to do with cooking, except that Rebekah Lyn and I were cooking up ways to connect with friends on the Internet and find the best recipes to get our books out there where they can be appreciated.

Rebekah Lyn is a lot younger than I am. In fact, I knew her mother and dad before they were married, and we are certainly still good friends. Rebekah Lyn has a degree in Communications and she works for a big company, so she is one sharp woman. We even wrote novels together one year. That was great fun.

Today she came over because we had several matters to discuss. I’m going to get some business cards like hers to show our website address: Rebekah Lyn Books. We talked that over. We are both in several places on the Internet. She is on Rebekah Lyn’s kitchen, Twitter, Face Book, and of course Amazon. Who isn’t on Amazon? I’m on Old Things R New, Christian Poets and Writers, and Face Book, too. I also write a  weekly post  Writing Life for Rebekah Lyn Books.

R. L. taught me how to put a Face Book post on all my venues so I don’t have to do them separately. That will save time! She showed me her iPad. I want one. I was thrilled with what it can do, but I haven’t got to the place where I can justify buying one for myself, because I’m more of a stay at home body that an out and about person.

We tried to put a gravatar on the website for my replies to comments. In case you’re ignorant about what a gravatar is, as I was: it is a picture of me that will go where my name goes. We were stymied on that, but I know with her competence, she will figure it out and get back to me. Of course, she already has a gravatar for her posts, so it won’t take her long.

The most fun was discussing the new book she’s working on, Jessie. It’s about a young man growing up running wild in the area of Kennedy Space Center in the sixties. We talked about what Jessie might be up to next, and called Bill in because he was a working man at the Space Center in those days, has a passion for space, and was actually a young man once. It was like a party and we all had a wonderful time putting our thoughts together and tending to Jessie. Rebekah Lyn is a thorough researcher and interviewer and she has a great dad who ran around in the Florida woods himself from an early age. I can’t wait to read Jessie, and neither can Bill.

Then of course, as all things do, our work/play session came to an end. No matter. Rebekah Lyn lives within walking distance from us. We have worked together for years on our writing and technology and God willing, we’ll have many more years of good times to come.

In place of a list of links, visit Rebekah Lyn Books to learn more about  DiVoran and Rebekah- Onisha

Titusville Centennial Celebration

6 Feb

A Slice of Life

  Bill Lites



The year was 1968 and Titusville was celebrating its 100th year of founding anniversary.  The city had been growing from it 250 inhabitants, in 1886, and this was a festive occasion for young and old alike.



For the duration of the celebration, many of the local families dressed in period clothes to remind us of the era of days gone by.   All the men were instructed to wear beards and all the women were not to wear makeup if they didn’t want to be fined by the city fathers.






There were reenactments with folks in period dress and there were riverboat rides up and down the Indian River.



There were parades thru downtown, covered dish dinners on the grounds.And then there were street dances, buggy rides and hayrides, as well as fireworks.












At the same time, many of the inhabitants of Titusville were working day and night across the Indian River, at the Kennedy Space Center, preparing the world’s largest rocket to send men to the moon for the first time.  The East Central Florida area, with its Cape Canaveral rocket launch facility had been known, ever since the early 1950’s, as “America’s Doorway to the Stars.” Now NASA and its many contractors were on the threshold of fulfilling President Kennedy’s challenge, ‘To put men on the moon and return them safely to the Earth.’  The method for accomplishing that Herculean effort was the mighty Apollo/Saturn V moon rocket program that at the time encompassed over 300,000 workers nationwide.



It would be another year and a half before that historical event would take place, but the Titusville Centennial was a wonderful way for many of the Space Center workers to relax, during their time away from work, and help celebrate another memorable local event.







One of the most interesting events, during the Centennial Celebration time for me, was the unusual beard contest, which was held after the men had allotted time to grow and fashion their beards.  I can’t remember who won the contest, but it was amazing how some of the men were able to come up with the designs they did.

As it turned out, DiVoran and I were members of the Titusville Twirlaways Square Dance Club during the time of the Centennial Celebration, and much of the period costumes fit right in with our square dance outfits.






When our children’s school was out for the summer, a group of dancers from our club traveled to Fontana Village, NC for a week of square dance classes, round dance classes and relaxation.



It was a wonderful and fun experience, with morning and afternoon dance lessons, and then evening skits and dancing the new routines, we had learned earlier in the day.  Couples and clubs came from all over the Southeast to enjoy the camaraderie of a large group of people with the same interest.









And so, that was how it was for the many of us who were part of two of the most opposite events taking place at the time.  One, a small little-known town’s 100th Centennial Celebration and the other, the U.S. landing of the first men on the Moon, which was celebrated by many people worldwide.

2 Chronicles 15:7


I was a 12 Year Old Businessman-Part 2

30 Jan

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

It was like the difference between night and day to move from LA, a hugh city within an area consisting of almost 500 square miles of asphalt and concrete, to say nothing of the massive traffic problems there, to a small town with a 1960 census population of only 4000.



The non-stopped work at the Kennedy Space Center to land men on the moon only lasted until 1970.  Not long after NASA and its many contractors had successfully completed this monumental accomplishment, the American public lost interest in space, manned space program funds were cut, and NASA started laying off contractors as the Apollo Program started spinning down.


At age 35, I was one of the last engineers at Rockwell International to be laid off in 1973, and since DiVoran and I didn’t want to return to LA, and there were no engineering job to be had in the immediate area, I worked and studied the construction business to obtain my General Contractors license.   I built houses full time for two years until I landed a job with Lockheed Missiles & Space Co. on the Trident Submarine Missile program.


For the next four years, I worked full time assembling and launching the Trident C4 submarine missile at Cape Canaveral, while building houses in my spare time.


When that series of launches was completed, I was laid off by LMSC and went to work for McDonnell-Douglas who was launching communication satellites from Cape Canaveral using their Delta Launch vehicles.


Then in 1979, I was recalled by LMSC to work on another series of the new Trident D5 submarine missiles launches, again at Cape Canaveral.


In 1987, after that series of launches was completed, I transferred to the NASA Space Shuttle program with Lockheed Space Operations Co. at the Kennedy Space Center.  I retired in 1996 with a total of 35 years as what I called an “Aerospace Nomad” having worked for eight different companies during my career in the U.S. aerospace community.

7jpg DiVoran and I enjoy our retirement, while living in the same house we bought new in 1965.  We stay so busy with the fun things in our lives now that I sometimes wonder how I ever found the time to go to work.  I am involved in the R/C model airplane hobby, and do volunteer work with a local Car Care Ministry, and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum at the TICO Airport here in Titusville.


DiVoran is realizing several of her lifelong dreams as she uses her God given talents with her painting and novel writing.  We both are enjoying having our extended family near us so we can spend quality time with them as often as possible.


DiVoran and I are looking forward to many more years of life together, filled with the fun and adventures that only God, family and friends can give us.




Proverbs 5:18 (NIV) 





U.S. Space Walk of Fame

16 Jan

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites


As two of the many workers on America’s Apollo moon landing program, Ron Spangler and Bill Lites were looking forward to attending the ground breaking ceremony for the Apollo monument at the U.S. Space Walk of Fame.  When completed, the U.S. Space Walk of Fame will honor the men and women who have been part of the U.S. Manned Space programs, from the first Mercury launch to the last Space Shuttle launch.


The ceremony took place in Titusville, Florida on July 16,1999 exactly 30 years to the second of the launch of the mighty Apollo/Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center.  This was the rocket that carried the Apollo 11 spacecraft, and the first men from Earth, to a landing on the moon.  The Apollo monument was the third in a series of four planned monuments making up the U.S. Space Walk of Fame.  Astronauts Wally Schirra and Gene Cernan were among the honored guests, and more than 300 attendees were on hand to commemorate this special event.  As part of the ceremony, a bronze bust of President John F. Kennedy, who originally challenged our nation to what became the Apollo Lunar Landing program, was unveiled.


The first of America’s Manned Space vehicles was the one-man Mercury capsule that carried a succession of American astronauts on missions into Earth orbit to prove man could live and work in space.

4a    4b


Next in the progression of space vehicles was the two-man Gemini capsule that carried additional American astronauts into Earth orbit where they practiced space vehicle maneuvering. This involved rendezvous and docking procedures with various target vehicles.  In addition, space walks were performed to test space suit design and function.



The Apollo project used the mighty Saturn V launch vehicle to carry American astronauts in the three-man Apollo space capsule and the two-man Lunar Landing vehicle to the moon, where Neil Armstrong and Buss Aldrin were the first humans from earth to set foot on the moon.



The Space Shuttle was America’s 7-man reusable space plane that was used to assemble and serviced the International Space Station, and perform many other important manned space missions.  This was truly an International venture.




The Hubble Space Telescope along with countless military and scientific satellites were placed in Earth orbit using the Space Shuttle Orbiter.


So it was that Bill and Tom were there with the many others, that day, who came to the U.S. Space Walk of Fame ceremony to represent the nearly 300,000 dedicated men and women employed by NASA and a variety of contractors from all over America, who toiled to make the United States Manned Space Program a reality for the world to see and appreciate.  What a great feeling of satisfaction and pride each of those workers deserves to have, as a memory, for the rest of their lives.

Farewell Endeavor

20 Sep


Wednesday I watched as the space shuttle Endeavor was flown from Kennedy Space Center to begin her final journey and just like other champion she did a victory lap, flying low over her central Florida home.  Thursday I watched as she left her overnight fuel stop in Texas to complete  the final leg to her new home in Los Angeles. As Endeavor perched on top of a 747, lifted off the ground, my eyes roamed her surface. I noted the wing edges with their protective tiles. I have friends who knew every tile on all the shuttles and could tell you stories of difficult repairs or times when the tiles almost failed during a re-entry. You see, the space shuttles weren’t just objects to those who worked on them.


After the Columbia disaster, the collected pieces of debris were brought into a warehouse and laid out in a grid. There were many pieces that were not easily identified so shuttle technicians were asked to help. Some were so mangled it looked impossible to determine their purpose but the men and women who worked on Columbia, some of whom worked on her from the very first tile, had no difficulty. My husband was one of those men. If you had asked him to identify our children’s clothes in a closet he would not have had a clue but he knew those mangled pieces because he spent eight or more hours per day for over thirty years cajoling and finessing them.

As you visit the space shuttles placed in museums around the country, stop a moment to pay your respect to the astronauts who lost their lives and if you listen closely, you might even hear echoes of the men and women who held their breath with each countdown and re-entry, the proud workforce of Kennedy Space Center.







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