Former Astronaut on How Space Exploration is Helping Earth

Studio 4

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Joan Higginbotham began her career at NASA in 1987 as a payload electrical engineer at the Kennedy Space Center
(KSC) in Florida.

During her nine-year tenure there, she participated in numerous space shuttle launches from the firing
room, the “nerve center” for launches — an impressive accomplishment for anyone. However, when she returned to KSC for the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-116, a 12-day mission to the International Space Station, she took “participation” to a whole new level: as astronaut Joan Higginbotham. To date, she is the third of only three African American women astronauts to fly in space.

For astronauts like Joan, performing common tasks that we take for granted here on Earth, can be quite challenging in space. Take exercising for instance. Astronauts in space exercise up to 14 hours a week to stay healthy, and their clothes take a beating. This is one of the examples of why NASA is teaming up with P&G to create and learn about new innovations that efficiently clean clothing within constrained environments. The partnership will help unveil breakthrough insights and power future innovations within the next decade. NASA Tide, a detergent, is being developed specifically for use in space to help combat challenges, such as malodor, cleanliness and stain removal, all while ensuring the laundry water output can be recycled for re-use as drinking water. Products like this will be used to advance environmentally friendly, low-resource-use laundry solutions here on Earth.

Tide will also be a part of the future Artemis Moon and Mars Missions to help develop cleaning solutions for even longer duration crewed missions.
On June 23, Joan Higginbotham will be available to discuss how more sustainable solutions in space can lead to practical, impactful solutions here at home. She’ll also share memories of her spaceflight and what she expects to see from the NASA space program in the years to come.

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