Former KSC Director Loyd Parker Passes Away at Age 83
By Space Coast Daily // July 30, 2014
passed away in his Cocoa Beach home July 12
BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA BEACH, FLORIDA – Space safety pioneer and former KSC Director of Safety, R&QA, and Protective Services, Loyd C. Parker, passed away in his Cocoa Beach home on July 12. He was 83.
Parker served at KSC from 1980-85 on the first 18 space shuttle launches. He was the Chief Scientist and Director of Research Triangle Institute in Cocoa Beach from 1985–2005.
“He helped write our nation’s space safety policy,” said his son Charles, an aerospace engineering teacher at Merritt Island High School.
“He worked every day in his professional career to protect the public.”
Parker was also the Branch Head of Safety & Quality Assurance Engineering at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia from the 1960s until 1980. During that time, he oversaw safety aspects of the successful launches of over 28 Scout rockets and over 6,000 suborbital flights.
“He was a young engineer at Wallops when the boss walked in and told him he was their new safety guy,” Charles added.
“He worked with other engineers on the Eastern and Western Ranges in the early 1960s to figure out the balance between the importance of access to space and the vital role of keeping the public out of harm’s way in that endeavor.”
Parker was born on December 1, 1930 near Asheville, NC and his family moved to Wilmington when he was a young boy.
He was a U.S. Air Force combat veteran of the Korean War – serving in theater as an aircraft mechanic. He earned an Electrical Engineering degree from North Carolina State University after the war.
“He was supposed to spend the Korean War in Alaska working on airplanes, but because of a bus driver’s strike in Phoenix, AZ, he missed that assignment and was sent to a front line base in Korea,” his son said.
While running the Cocoa Beach-based RTI office, he and his team provided rocket/missile flight and range safety analyses for the US Air Force, NASA, and the Office of Commercial Space Transportation.
Parker also provided safety-related technical support to the nations of Italy, France, Japan, and Brazil.
Parker earned the Exceptional Service Medal at KSC for his contributions in 1981. He held two patents – one for a safe/armed firing type initiator and a second for an Inflight IFR Procedures Simulator. Parker also published many technical papers on aviation and aerospace safety policies and procedures.
He served with several technical associations, including NASA Space Shuttle Senior Safety Review Board and the NASA Operations and Engineering Panel.
Parker loved travelling with his wife, including trips to Alaska, Panama, Japan, and Hawaii. He was an avid sportsman playing baseball and softball, bowling, hunting, fishing, and golfing.