Tag Archives: NASA

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) 





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.







Stolen Rocket

22 Aug

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

When my son was six-years-old I was working on America’s Manned Space Program and at the time I thought it would be great fun for my son and I to build and launch model rockets.  We purchased a couple of small basic models and put them together.  We took them to the local school yard to fly them and we always drew a crowd of kids who wanted to watch and help us retrieve the spent rockets.

They flew very well and it was so much fun that we began to expand our new hobby by designing our own rockets and launching them.  One day the launches were going great when the wind picked up and carried the parachute and rocket across the street into the nearby neighborhood where it landed in the front yard of one of the houses.  As we were hurrying over to retrieve our rocket, a young boy came out of the house, picked up the rocket and ran back into the house.  I was stunned!  Did he not see us coming to get it?  Did he think finders – keepers?  Whatever he thought, it didn’t matter, it was our rocket and we wanted it back.

When I rang the doorbell, a man opened the door and asked how he could help us.  I explained what had happened and told him we were there to claim our rocket.  He said he didn’t know anything about any rocket, but would ask his son.  Well, when confronted the boy admitted what he had done and the rocket was returned to us with an apology.

My son and I enjoyed many years of flying our model rockets, but after our “Stolen Rocket” adventure, we were very careful to launch our rockets only when there was no wind to carry them out of the schoolyard parameter.

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