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NASA Astronaut Talks To U Of I Students From Orbit


A NASA astronaut who graduated from the University of Illinois spoke to U of I students on Tuesday from orbit.

Students waited in a packed lecture hall at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications on the Urbana campus as NASA tried to connect one of its own, Mike Hopkins, through a live video feed.

“University of Illinois, this is mission control Houston, please call station for a voice check,” a NASA operator said.

“University of Illinois, fighting Illini, I hear you loud and clear, and I’m ready to answer some questions,” Hopkins replied a few moments later, appearing on a large video screen.

Hopkins is docked at the International Space Station, up to 286 miles above the earth’s surface. He spent about 10 minutes talking to students and taking questions. He said he wants the space program to expand its reach.

“If we’re looking at going further out into the universe, then we need to do that somewhat independently, and so as you start to look at all of the technologies, I think that’s one area that we need to focus on,” he said. “Being able to be a little more autonomous, a little more reliable and a crew on board being able to operate them without as much help from the ground.”

U of I Aerospace Engineering Student Robert Kaminski went to see Hopkins speak, and he also wants to go up into space.

“It’s been one of my life goals ever since I was a kid,” Kaminski said. “You have this little bastion of life and humanity that’s kind of our future. You know it’s like our small steps into becoming this interplanetary, intergalactic species. It’s pretty cool.”

That is a journey that will last until next March for Mike Hopkins.