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Author Topic:   John Charles, NASA scientist (1956-2022)
Robert Pearlman

Posts: 47758
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-17-2022 03:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is with regret and sadness that I note the death of John Charles, former chief scientist for NASA's Human Research Program. He was 66.

John researched and wrote about space history topics as a pastime, focusing on subjects such as the introduction of neutral buoyancy for spaceflight training, the development of the Lunar Receiving Laboratory and the U.S. Air Force's plans for the Manned Orbiting Laboratory. He was a member of this community, joining the forums in 2004, and was a personal friend.

He will be sorely missed.

John retired from NASA in 2018 and soon after became Space Center Houston's first scientist in residence. Here is a brief biography prepared by NASA at the time:

As a postdoctoral fellow, he began his NASA journey at JSC in 1983 in the medical research branch. He became a civil servant in the cardiovascular laboratory at JSC in 1985. He is retiring as Associate Director of Exploration Research Planning. Prior to that position, Dr. Charles was the Chief Scientist for NASA's Human Research Program.

As a child, Dr. Charles avidly followed the "space race" and was particularly enamored with the journey of Astronaut John Glenn. "At about age 10, I decided to quit dreaming and actually focus on a career in the space business," Charles said. Through his academic studies, he realized the best way to combine his interest in biology with his desire to do space-related work was to pursue a career as a research physiologist.

Dr. Charles spent a large part of his lab career at JSC looking at the problem of orthostatic intolerance, the feeling of faintness astronauts experience on their return to Earth from orbit. Charles and his team helped to formalize a postflight test of orthostatic function and developed the technique of combining drinking water and salt tablets during lower body negative pressure (LBNP) to restore body fluids and pull them out of the upper body and back into the lower body.

Dr. Charles was the Mission Scientist for two notable space shuttle flights: STS-95, John Glenn's return to space shuttle flight; and STS-107, Columbia's last mission in January 2003. As Mission Scientist he coordinated all of the NASA-sponsored biomedical, biological and microgravity science investigations for these missions.

Dr. Charles describes a high point of his career with NASA: "I have to rate as one of the highest the chance to work with John Glenn, because he inspired me way back in 1962 to be interested in spaceflight. Then 36 years later, when he flew on the shuttle, I dealt with him on a fairly regular basis to prepare our experiments for him to do in flight. It was always a thrill for me to see and speak to him. It was sort of a full circle, going from being inspired by him to working with him and having him consider me a part of his team."

As Chief Scientist of the Human Research Program, Dr. Charles's later years at JSC focused on the One-Year Mission. For that mission, beginning in March 2015, Astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko spent one year on the International Space Station (ISS) to advance research of medical, psychological, and biomedical challenges of humans on long-duration missions.

Dr. Charles is a Fellow of the Aerospace Medical Association and a Full Member of the International Academy of Astronautics. He has published over 60 scientific articles, and has received several professional awards.


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posted 01-17-2022 04:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for star51L   Click Here to Email star51L     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


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posted 01-17-2022 04:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceCadet1983   Click Here to Email SpaceCadet1983     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Kevin T. Randall

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From: Chesham, Bucks UK
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posted 01-17-2022 04:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kevin T. Randall   Click Here to Email Kevin T. Randall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Larry McGlynn

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posted 01-17-2022 04:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


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From: San Diego
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posted 01-17-2022 04:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John was an amazing all-rounder... like Batman, he led two lives... a world-class NASA legend by day, and by night a dogged researcher of space history. He was a great friend and a wonderful help to me in my work, and is going to be greatly missed.


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posted 01-17-2022 04:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ManInSpace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


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posted 01-17-2022 04:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mode1charlie   Click Here to Email mode1charlie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

To those who knew and loved him, I send my sincere condolences.


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posted 01-17-2022 04:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


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posted 01-17-2022 04:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MartinAir   Click Here to Email MartinAir     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


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posted 01-17-2022 05:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kite     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
RIP cS Member.


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From: Chelmsford, MA
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posted 01-17-2022 05:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for edorr   Click Here to Email edorr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In my all too limited experiences with him, John was amazingly accessible, friendly and helpful. I am so saddened -- the more so in learning that he was only 66.

Jurg Bolli

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posted 01-17-2022 05:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jurg Bolli   Click Here to Email Jurg Bolli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


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posted 01-17-2022 05:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


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posted 01-17-2022 05:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dss65   Click Here to Email dss65     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

David Carey

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posted 01-17-2022 06:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David Carey   Click Here to Email David Carey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


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posted 01-17-2022 07:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for randy   Click Here to Email randy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


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posted 01-17-2022 07:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for brianjbradley   Click Here to Email brianjbradley     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


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posted 01-17-2022 08:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John was my point of contact for the Twins Study patch during Scott Kelly’s one year ISS mission. He made it possible for Jorge and I to satisfy 20 principal investigators.

He was also a very kind a gracious man who was taken way too soon. His wife Kathy and his family are in my prayers.


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posted 01-17-2022 08:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


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posted 01-17-2022 08:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


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posted 01-17-2022 09:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
JB, as I always called him, was one of the most time-generous and helpful people one could ever hope to meet or correspond with. As recalled by others earlier in this post, JB would always seek out an answer when it was needed, and his passion for human space activity was profound.

I have fond memories of sharing a meal with JB and Kathy and their family at a swank Houston restaurant several years ago, and we all got on famously. Taken from us far too young, but leaving behind a legion of people who respected and admired this great guy. My sympathy to his family, friends and colleagues.


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posted 01-17-2022 10:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dcfowler1   Click Here to Email dcfowler1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


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posted 01-17-2022 10:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tedc   Click Here to Email tedc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


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posted 01-18-2022 01:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Panther494   Click Here to Email Panther494     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


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posted 01-18-2022 08:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SPACEFACTS   Click Here to Email SPACEFACTS     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


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posted 01-18-2022 08:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 4allmankind   Click Here to Email 4allmankind     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Dave Shayler

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From: Halesowen, West Mids, UK
Registered: Dec 2009

posted 01-18-2022 09:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dave Shayler   Click Here to Email Dave Shayler     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was shocked and saddened by the news of JB's passing. I had not spoken with him for some time but he was always helpful and supportive of my research.

Like other tributes to him I also have fond memories of several enjoyable meals during my visits to Clear Lake, and the many discussions and emails about his work and the challenges of extended duration spaceflight.

John's experiences, expertise and passion were extremely helpful in my understanding of the on-going challenges of long duration spaceflight.

He was especially willing to share information on the research carried out on STS-95 (John Glenn flight) and STS-107, the two missions in which he served as Mission Scientist. It was John who introduced me to Japanese astronaut Chiaki Mukai, who he had worked with on the research programmes for those two flights, and who would write the Forward to the Women in Space book co-authored with Ian Moule.

We have lost a true gentleman and a passionate contributor to the documentation of space history. It was John's earlier investigative research and help which inspired me explore in more detail the original mission of Apollo 2 and try to explain what should have occurred on the Apollo 1 mission had it flown.

John's enthusiastic support of space history, built upon a long insight into the workings of the space programme greatly encouraged and enhanced the work many researchers and historians, including myself, for which I shall be forever grateful to him.

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 47758
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-18-2022 10:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kathy Charles, John's wife, posted the following on Facebook:
I am so sad to announce the passing of my dear love, friend and husband John Charles. Someone else posted the news here before I had a chance to catch my breath and be ready to have this personal pain go public. Here is the story.

John passed quietly in his sleep about 2:00am Monday, January 17 after a long and difficult health battle. I was with him.

John suffered an aortic dissection on February 19, 2020 and then a massive stroke on July 28, 2020.

John spent many months in the hospital and rehab trying to regain the ability to participate in the life he loved. It was difficult.

With so much help and support from family, friends and conworkers John absolutely knew he was loved. John will be missed by so many.

My journey with John can only be described as remarkable. I will miss his wit, joy, intelligence, humor and most of all his love. John Charles was the remarkable man you knew him to be. There were no pretenses with John.

I am not ready to make arrangements for a service quite yet but there will be a service. I will post the information here and spread the news.

I am collecting your memories of John from Facebook posts and other sources. If you would like to send a memory please send it to

I am honored to be his wife and to have taken this journey with John. I love him and miss him so deeply. We both appreciate you all beyond what words can say. Your love and support has sustained us when the times were good, and they were so good, and when the journey got difficult. I am exhausted.

Love and peace to you all. Please be kind to one another and hold your loved ones close. It is so important.


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posted 01-18-2022 10:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Grounded!   Click Here to Email Grounded!     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


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posted 01-19-2022 08:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM1   Click Here to Email LM1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 47758
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-19-2022 11:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Statement from Vanessa Wyche, director, NASA's Johnson Space Center:
NASA is saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. John B. Charles. Charles served for 33 years at NASA, retiring as chief scientist for the Human Research Program at Johnson Space Center. Previously, he was the associate manager for International Science, where he led NASA's space life sciences planning for the joint U.S./Russian one-year mission on the International Space Station, including the Twins Study.

Charles' research included co-developing fluid-loading countermeasures to protect space shuttle astronauts from fainting during re-entry and landing. He also led investigations into the cardiovascular effects of spaceflight using ultrasound, in-flight lower body negative pressure and re-entry data recording on the space shuttle and on the Russian space station Mir. He coordinated NASA's biomedical, biological and microgravity investigations as mission specialist on Mir, John Glenn's shuttle flight and on space shuttle Columbia's last mission. He leaves behind a last contribution, and our thoughts are with his family and friends.


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posted 01-20-2022 06:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DG27   Click Here to Email DG27     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


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posted 01-21-2022 06:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jeff   Click Here to Email Jeff     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


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posted 01-21-2022 07:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


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posted 01-26-2022 04:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for astro-nut   Click Here to Email astro-nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had the pleasure of meeting John Charles in person in Dayton, Ohio. A great NASA employee!

Thoughts and prayer for his family.

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