Joan Higginbotham is NASA’s third black female astronaut. In 1987, two weeks after receiving a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, she was recruited by NASA to be a payload electrical engineer at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Following a decade of impressive work, Higginbotham was selected as an astronaut candidate in 1996. In 2006, she was part of the seven-member crew on the space shuttle Discovery. The mission’s duration was 12 days, 20 hours and 45 minutes. Higginbotham logged over 308 total space hours before retiring from NASA in 2007 to work in the private sector.