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Joan Higginbotham      

Electrical Engineer & Former NASA Astronaut; Third African-American Woman To Go Into Space

Joan Higginbotham is an electrical engineer and a former NASA astronaut. She flew aboard Space Shuttle Discovery mission STS-116 as a mission specialist and is the third African-American woman to go into space, after Mae Jemison and Stephanie Wilson.

Higginbotham began her career in 1987 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida an aerospace technologist, colloquially known as a rocket scientist. She actively participated in 53 space shuttle launches during her nine-year tenure at Kennedy Space Center.

In 1996, Higginbotham was selected by NASA as an astronaut candidate and reported to the Johnson Space Center. During her time at NASA, she logged over 308 hours in space, having completed her first mission with the crew of STS-116, where her primary task was to operate the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS).

In November 2007, Higginbotham retired from NASA in order to pursue a career in the private sector. Today, she serves as director of program management at Collins Aerospace.

Higginbotham received the Adler Planetarium Women in Space Science Award and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal.

She holds a bachelor's degree in electrical and electronics engineering from Southern Illinois University, as well as a master's degree in management science and a master's degree in space systems, both from the Florida Institute of Technology. She and her husband live in Charlotte, North Carolina.


A flight to space. A fight in the streets. Americans search high and ...

At her home in Charlotte, former astronaut Joan Higginbotham started watching the launch preparations at T-minus 20:00. She remembered the fat gloves and ...

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