Joan E. Higginbotham NASA Astronaut
Source: Johnson Space Center APRIL 1998


Born August 3, 1964 in Chicago, Illinois. She enjoys body building (weightlifting), cycling, music, motivational speaking.


Graduated from Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, Chicago, Illinois, in 1982; received a bachelor of science degree electrical engineering from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, in 1987, and masters of management and space systems from Florida Institute of Technology in 1992 and 1996, respectively.


Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Bronze Eagles.


NASA Exceptional Service Medal; Keys to the Cities of Cocoa and Rockledge, Florida; Group Achievement Award for STS-26 Return to Flight; Kennedy Space Center Public Affairs Certificate of Appreciation for Service; Commendation of Merit for Service to the Department of Defense (DOD) Missions; Presidential Sports Award in bicycling and weight training; Outstanding Woman of the Year Award; Outstanding Performance 1992, 1993, 1995; National Technical Association's 50 Distinguished Scientists and Engineers; Florida Institute of Technology's Distinguished Alumni for 1997.


Joan Higginbotham began her career in 1987 at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida, as a Payload Electrical Engineer in the Electrical and Telecommunications Systems Division. Within six months she became the lead for the Orbiter Experiments (OEX) on OV-102, the Space Shuttle Columbia. Later she worked on the Shuttle payload bay reconfiguration for all Shuttle missions. She was also tasked by KSC management to undertake several special assignments where she served as the Executive Staff Assistant to the Director of Shuttle Operations and Management, led a team of engineers in performing critical analysis for the Space Shuttle flow in support of a simulation model tool, and was involved working on an interactive display to show detailed Shuttle processing procedures at Spaceport USA. Higginbotham was promoted to Lead Orbiter Project Engineer for OV-102 after two years as an orbiter project engineer for OV-104, Space Shuttle Atlantis. She held the technical lead government engineering position in the firing room where she supported and managed the integration of vehicle testing and troubleshooting.

Selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in April 1996 Joan Higginbotham reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1996. Having completed two years of training and evaluation, she is qualified for flight assignment as a mission specialist. Currently, Joan Higginbotham is assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office Computer Support Branch.

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