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Astronauts Honored at the White House
Astronauts Robert Curbeam and Joan Higginbotham at the White House

President Bush recognizes NASA astronauts Joan Higginbotham, right, and Robert Curbeam, during a ceremony honoring African-American History Month, Monday, Feb. 12, 2007, in the East Room at the White House in Washington. Curbeam and Higginbotham were crew members of Space Shuttle Discovery's STS-116 mission to the International Space Station in December 2006. It was the first shuttle mission with two African-American crew members.

President Bush called STS-116, "one of the most challenging missions in NASA's history" and added, "I really appreciate the fact that they are furthering humanity's path of discovery, and I appreciate the fact that you say loud and clear, our country is unlimited in its opportunities for people from all walks of life."
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During the 13-day mission -- the 20th shuttle flight to the International Space Station -- the crew rewired the outpost's power system and continued constructing the station by installing the P5 integrated truss segment. As the only STS-116 crew member to participate in all four spacewalks, Curbeam set a shuttle program record for the most spacewalks performed by one astronaut during a single mission. Higginbotham directed the transfer of 5,800 pounds of much-needed supplies and equipment to the station from the SPACEHAB single logistics module in the orbiter's payload bay.

Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

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