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Astronaut Biography: Joan E. Higginbotham

Astronaut Biography: Joan E. Higginbotham
NASA astronaut Joan Higginbotham poses with a T-38 jet during a photo session.
(Image: © NASA/JSC.)

NAME: Joan E. Higginbotham
NASA Astronaut

PERSONALDATA: Born inChicago, Illinois. She enjoys body building (weightlifting), cycling, music,motivational speaking.

EDUCATION: Graduated from Whitney M. YoungMagnet High School, Chicago, Illinois, in 1982; received a Bachelor of Sciencedegree in Electrical Engineering from Southern Illinois University atCarbondale, in 1987, a Masters of Management from Florida Institute ofTechnology in 1992, and a Masters in Space Systems from Florida Institute ofTechnology in 1996.

ORGANIZATIONS: Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.,The Gulf Coast Apollo Chapter of the Links, Inc.

AWARDS: NASAExceptional Service Medal; Keys to the Cities of Cocoa and Rockledge, Florida;Group Achievement Award for STS-26Return to Flight; Kennedy Space Center Public Affairs Certificate ofAppreciation for Service; Commendation of Merit for Service to the Departmentof Defense (DOD) Missions; Presidential Sports Award in bicycling and weighttraining; Outstanding Woman of the Year Award; Outstanding Performance 1992,1993, 1995; National Technical Association's 50 Distinguished Scientists andEngineers; Florida Institute of Technology's Distinguished Alumni for 1997;Southern Illinois University's Distinguished Alumni; Essence Magazine's Top 50Women of 2004.

NASAEXPERIENCE: JoanHigginbotham began her career in 1987 at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC),Florida, as a Payload Electrical Engineer in the Electrical andTelecommunications Systems Division.

Within sixmonths she became the lead for the Orbiter Experiments (OEX) on OV-102, the spaceshuttle Columbia. She later worked on the shuttle payload bayreconfiguration for all shuttle missions and conducted electrical compatibilitytests for all payloads flown aboard the shuttle.

She wasalso tasked by KSC management to undertake several special assignments whereshe served as the Executive Staff Assistant to the Director of ShuttleOperations and Management, led a team of engineers in performing criticalanalysis for the space shuttle flow in support of a simulation model tool, andworked on an interactive display detailing space shuttle processing proceduresat Spaceport USA (Kennedy Space Center's Visitors Center).

Higginbothamthen served as backup orbiter project engineer for OV-104, space shuttle Atlantis,where she participated in the integration of the orbiter docking station (ODS)into the space shuttle used during Shuttle/Mirdocking missions. Two years later, she was promoted to lead orbiter projectengineer for OV-102, Space Shuttle Columbia. In this position, she held thetechnical lead government engineering position in the firing room where shesupported and managed the integration of vehicle testing and troubleshooting.She actively participated in 53 space shuttle launches during her 9-year tenureat Kennedy Space Center.

Selected asan astronaut candidate by NASA inApril 1996, Joan Higginbotham reported to the Johnson Space Center in August1996.

Since thattime, she had been assigned technical duties in the Payloads & HabitabilityBranch, the Shuttle Avionics & Integration Laboratory (SAIL), and theKennedy Space Center (KSC) Operations (Ops) Support Branch, where she testedvarious modules of the International Space Station for operability,compatibility, and functionality prior to launch.

She workedin the Astronaut Office CAPCOM (Capsule Communicator) Branch in the startup andsupport of numerous space station missions and space shuttle missions. She wasalso assigned to the Robotics Branch. Her last assignment was as the Lead forthe InternationalSpace Station Systems Crew Interfaces Section. Joan is assigned to the crewof STS-116where her primary task will be to operate the Space Station Remote ManipulatorSystem (SSRMS).

Lastupdated: June 2006

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