Nicholas L. Johnson, of Tullahoma, passed this life on Monday, April 12th, 2021 at Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford at the age of 71.
Mr. Johnson was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota to the late Francis LeRoy Johnson and Marjory Madeline Johnson. For 35 years he provided technical and policy support to a wide variety of U.S. government organizations in the areas of space situational awareness, space defense, space system analyses, and space environment definition. From 1996 to 2014, Mr. Johnson served as NASA’s Chief Scientist for Orbital Debris. He received numerous awards while at NASA, including the Joint Chief of Staff (DOD) Meritorious Civilian Service Award, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, and the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, the Order of Yuri Gagarin, Russian Federation of Cosmonautics Award. For 17 years during this period, he also served as the U.S. technical expert on orbital debris at the United Nations. Mr. Johnson is recognized internationally as an authority on orbital debris and foreign space systems and is the author of eighteen books and more than 200 papers on these topics.
Prior to his career in aerospace, he served tours of duty with both the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy and is a Vietnam veteran. Mr. Johnson graduated magna cum laude from Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis) with a B.S. in Physics in 1974 and was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus of the university in 1989. In addition to his parents, Mr. Johnson was preceded in death by his sister, Frances Cora Johnson; and his brother, Andrew James Johnson.
He is survived by his wife, Beth Johnson; one son, Kevin L. Johnson and his wife Lisa Barr Johnson; sister-in-law, Jeanette Kiech; and two grandchildren, Daniel Alan Johnson and Rebecca Elise Nichole Johnson.
Private services will be held at a later time. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Mr. Johnson’s memory to the charity of your choice.
Kilgore Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Tullahoma News – April 18, 2021