Press Release

Chicago Native to Discuss Role on NASA’s Next Shuttle Flight

By SpaceRef Editor
October 17, 2006
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Chicago Native to Discuss Role on NASA’s Next Shuttle Flight

Joan Higginbotham, a NASA astronaut who will fly aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in December, will be available for interviews by satellite from 7:15 to 9 a.m. EDT on Friday, Oct. 20.

To participate in the interviews, media should contact Stephanie Stoll at 281-483-9071 or by pager at 713-508-0581 by 5 p.m. EDT, Thursday, Oct. 19.

Higginbotham will be making her first spaceflight aboard Discovery on STS-116, an 11-day mission to the International Space Station to rearrange the complex’s power and cooling systems. During the flight, Higginbotham will operate the station’s robotic arm, oversee experiments and act as the primary coordinator of cargo transfer between the shuttle and station.

The systems’ changes will bring online electricity generated by a second giant set of solar panels added to the station during a September shuttle flight. The changes will almost double the electrical power available to the station’s systems. Discovery also will bring a new crew member to the station to begin a six-month stay and bring home a station resident who has been in orbit since July.

Higginbotham was born and raised in Chicago, and she received a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Ill. She also has two master’s degrees from the Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Fla. Before her selection as an astronaut in 1996, Higginbotham spent nine years working at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida, overseeing various stages of preparing shuttles for launch.

Higginbotham will be joined aboard Discovery by STS-116 Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill Oefelein and mission specialists Bob Curbeam, Nick Patrick, Suni Williams and Christer Fuglesang, a European Space Agency astronaut. Williams will remain aboard the station for six months. European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Reiter, currently aboard the station, will return to Earth on Discovery.

For Higginbotham’s biographical information, visit:

Higginbotham’s interviews will be carried live on the NASA TV analog satellite AMC-6, at 72 degrees west longitude; transponder 5C, 3800 MHz, vertical polarization, with audio at 6.8 MHz. B-roll video of her training for the mission will air at 6:30 a.m. EDT. For NASA TV downlink, schedules and streaming video information, visit:

For more information about STS-116 and its crew, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.