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Faces of SLS: Keith Higginbotham

Keith Higginbotham for Face of SLS

To be a part of a large project with significant capabilities like NASA’s Space Launch System is exciting. SLS is well underway, and I look forward to seeing it launch in 2018. It’s going to be a beast.

I’m the structural test lead for the SLS Spacecraft Payload Integration & Evolution Office at Marshall, and our big project right now is preparing for structural loads testing for the upper part of the rocket. We have two major test pieces in the stand right now — the core stage simulator and the launch vehicle stage adapter — with more coming this fall. The test series will ensure each structure can withstand the incredible stresses of launch. The hardware will really be put through its paces as we use hydraulic pressure to push, pull and twist on the test articles. It’s gratifying to work on these large structural test articles and know that they will play a key role in building the rocket.

I’m originally from Athens, Alabama, and I went to the University of Alabama in Huntsville. My dad suggested that I look into a career in engineering, so I did, and it seemed interesting. I’m glad I chose that path – I never imagined that one day I’d be working on the world’s most powerful rocket.

Family is everything to me and my wife. We have a variety of hobbies we enjoy. At the top of my list would be quail hunting, bass fishing, playing golf, traveling and watching college football. If my wife or kids want to do something else, I’m there to spend time with them.