Mo. native reaches International Space Station

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(URBANA, Ill., AP) — The latest American to board the International Space Station is a native of Richland, Mo. and the son of Warrensburg City Manager Paula Hertwig-Hopkins.

Mike Hopkins and two Russians traveled in a Soyuz capsule Wednesday after blasting off from a launch pad in Kazakhstan to dock with the space station, where they’ll spend the next six months.
The 44-year-old Air Force colonel earned a degree in aerospace engineering from Illinois in 1991.
Officials at the school say he’s the sixth alum to become an astronaut. This is his first mission.
“Needless to say we’re very excited to have another former student get the chance to go to space,” said Philippe Geubelle, who leads the school’s aerospace engineering department. “I’m absolutely convinced that 90 to 100 percent of students join aerospace because they would like eventually to become astronauts. It’s nice to see that some actually get to live the dream.”
Hopkins was raised on a farm in Richland, Mo., but decided to attend Illinois for college because of the engineering program. Once he arrived, he became a walk-on member of the football team and eventually earned a scholarship and became a starting player who was co-captain his senior year.
He played in four bowl games and has said that the experience helped him learn teamwork that he now uses at NASA.
“He’s obviously taken that work ethic on with him,” said Assistant Athletic Director Kent Brown. “This was always his total dream to be an astronaut. We couldn’t be any more proud of what he’s accomplished.”
There are now six astronauts, including Hopkins, at the orbiting outpost.
When the trio arrived, they were able to video chat with their families back on Earth.
Hopkins spoke with his mother during a live broadcast on NASA TV, saying: “It was a pretty good ride, mom. It was a lot of fun.”