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One thousand Mumbai students to interact with NASA astronaut Joan Higginbotham

Tuesday, July 06, 2010 06:10:32 PM, Staff Reporter

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Malegaon: At Nehru Auditorium of Nehru Centre, Dr. Annie Besant Road, Mumbai coming Friday July 9, 2010 at 11 in the morning, nearly one thousand students chosen from 103 schools of Mumbai on first-come-first-served basis will have a chance to meet and interact with the former NASA lady astronaut Joan Higginbotham.

According to Piyush Pandey, Director, Nehru Planetarium Mumbai, Joan, the Space Shuttle (STS-116) crewmate of Sunita Williams will make a presentation before the children about the challenges and thrills of space travel, human endurance, etc. and then answer their questions.

Recipient of several medals and awards and a great motivator for children, Joan has had a long NASA experience that began in 1987 at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, as a Payload Electrical Engineer in the Electrical and Telecommunications Systems Division.

She has held several positions in NASA such as the lead for the Orbiter Experiments of the Space Shuttle Columbia, payload reconfiguration person for all Shuttle missions, done electrical compatibility tests for all payloads flown aboard the Shuttle.


She has also 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 worked on an interactive display detailing the Space Shuttle processing procedures at Spaceport USA (Kennedy Space Center’s Visitors Center).


She was promoted to lead orbiter project engineer for Space Shuttle Columbia and led government engineering position in the firing room where she supported and managed the integration of vehicle testing and troubleshooting. She actively participated in 53 space shuttle launches during her 9-year tenure at Kennedy Space Center.

Selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in April 1996, Joan Higginbotham reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1996. Since that time, she had been assigned technical duties in the Payloads & Habitability Branch, the Shuttle Avionics & Integration Laboratory (SAIL), the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Operations (Ops) Support Branch, where she tested various modules of the International Space Station for operability, compatibility, and functionality prior to launch, the Astronaut Office CAPCOM (Capsule Communicator) Branch in the startup and support of numerous space station missions and space shuttle missions, the Robotics Branch, and Lead for the International Space Station Systems Crew Interfaces Section.

Joan has logged over 308 hours in space having completed her first mission with the crew of STS-116 Discovery (9-22 December 2006) where her primary task was to operate the Space Station Remote Manipulator System.

Joan Higginbotham was assigned to another Space Shuttle flight (STS-126 mission) targeted for launch in September, 2008 but she decided to retire from NASA in November 2007 in order to pursue a career in the private sector.



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