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Charles "Charlie" E. Johnson, 77, of Palm Coast, died January 23, 2011. Charlie's role as a space pioneer began in the early 1960s. He participated in developing NASA's Surveyor lunar lander, which achieved the first soft landing on the moon in 1966, transmitting photos that paved the way for Apollo astronaut lunar landings 3 years later. As Surveyor's Test Conductor for Hughes Aircraft, Charlie was responsible for system test in a simulated space environment, and for determining flight readiness of the radar system that controlled the soft landing. Charlie joined COMSAT and INTELSAT, as Program Manager for the Intelsat VI Spacecraft Program & Flight 3 Reboost Mission. In 1990, when a $150M satellite was stranded in a useless low orbit by a rocket booster failure, he was named to manage a joint effort with NASA to conduct a daring satellite rescue launched during the maiden voyage of Shuttle Endeavour. The mission captured national news headlines in 1992, when 3 astronauts reached up to capture the 4600-pound satellite, attach it to the new booster, and launch it from the shuttle bay into its intended orbit, the first time a satellite was re-launched in space. Survivors include his wife, Janet; his son, Charles Johnson Jr. of Los Angeles; and his grandson, Charles "CJ" Johnson of Anaheim, CA. He is also survived by his brother-in-law, Fred Hager of New Bern, NC and sister-in-law, Barbi Carpenter of Yucaipa, CA. He previously resided in Reno, NV, Los Altos Hills, CA, and Palos Verdes Estates, CA. Charlie was a member of Palm Coast United Methodist Church. Charlie loved hiking, bicycling, boating, and the Sierra Nevada mountains. For many years he and Janet skied and backpacked there. Charlie was known for his ability to fix almost anything. He repaired bicycles, appliances, cars, and built a television. Later, his avocation became large-scale home improvements, such as hillside decks, fireplaces, hot spas, gates, walls, electrical /plumbing improvements, and implementing a whole-house generator. Charlie earned a B.E. in Electrical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 1955, and completed the Business Management Program at UCLA. He was a member of IEEE for many years. He was a 2nd Lt. in the Army R.O.T.C. and served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. In the 1950's, he was a field services Technical Representative in Spain, Holland, and Florida and an instructor in the Hughes Factory Training School. A Celebration of Life is scheduled for Friday, February 4th, 2 PM, at Palm Coast United Methodist Church, 5200 Belle Terre Pkwy Palm Coast, 386.445.1600, Should you wish, donations in Charlie's name may be made to a charity of your choice.

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Published in Daytona Beach News-Journal on Jan. 30, 2011.
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