Mission and Rank
Mission Specialist 4
Captain Mike L. Polansky
December 9, 2006
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Delivery of ISS P5 truss, rewiring, and crew exchange
Joan Higginbotham was an accomplished NASA engineer for nearly a decade before becoming an Astronaut.
During her career, she has worked on the development of major NASA space shuttles and participated in 53 space launches during her first nine years at the Kenedy Space Center. Higginbotham worked as the lead for the Orbiter Experiments on OV-102, the Space Shuttle Columbia, Executive Staff Assistant to the director of Shuttle Operations and Management, and backup orbiter project engineer for OV-104, Space Shuttle Atlantis. She was then promoted to lead orbiter project engineer for OV-102, Space Shuttle Columbia.
Higginbotham was selected as an astronaut candidate in April of 1996 by NASA.
As an astronaut, Higgenbottham worked aboard the ISS as the Lead for the International Space Station Systems Crew Interfaces Section. She was part of the crew of STS-116 in 2006 where she logged over 308 hours in space during the mission. This assignment made her the third African American woman to go into space. Her primary task during the mission was to operate the Space Station Remote Manipulator System.