Former NASA astronaut Joan Higginbotham shared her experience of going into space with Future Human 2020 attendees.
Joan Higginbotham was a crew member on NASA’s Space Shuttle Discovery mission STS-116. An electrical engineer, she began working on NASA shuttles after a “twist of fate” and had never even considered becoming an astronaut.
It was her boss who pushed her to apply for the astronaut programme and, after a rigorous recruitment process and some further education, she finally went to space in 2006.
The crew she travelled with to the International Space Station was diverse, with seven nationalities from three different space agencies. Seeing the Earth from a distance made her think about nature and society.
“I saw the 10 of us – with all our different colours and backgrounds and experiences – getting along to accomplish this one goal,” she said. “My thought was, why can’t we all get along? Because if we can do it in this tin can, why can’t we do it down on Earth where there is so much more space?”
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Words by Lisa Ardill