After a total of 166 days in space, the lake area native NASA Astronaut Mike Hopkins has safely returned to Earth.
After a total of 166 days in space, lake area native NASA Astronaut Mike Hopkins has safely returned to Earth.
Hopkins launched into space on Sept. 26 and spent months on the International Space Station. Hopkins along with Expedition 38 Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) undocked their Soyuz spacecraft from the station on March 10 at 8:02 p.m. EDT, heading for a landing in Kazakhstan, southeast of Dzhezkazgan at 11:24 p.m. (9:24 a.m. on March 11 local time in Dzhezkazgan).
Hopkins has been prepping for his return home during the last week. On March 3, he tweeted, "Checked out our Sokul suits today in preparation for returning to Earth next Monday. Can't believe it is almost time!"
His excitement was apparent when he again tweeted, "I've been in space for about 165 days. On day 166, I'm coming home," on March 9.
This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has been one that Hopkins has dreamt of since high school as he told students during a question and answer session recently. Students from his alma mater, School of the Osage, got the chance to ask him questions via Skype which he answered live from the International Space Station.
Hopkins experienced many unique things while in space including space walking and communicating with celebrities.
On March 1, country music artist Blake Shelton asked Hopkins via Twitter, "Hows my man @Astrolllini tonight?"
To which Hopkins replied, "Living the dream! 9 days to go before we close the hatch and head back to earth."
Hopkins was one of the two astronauts that participated in a space walk just days before Christmas. Hopkins documented their adventure on his Twitter feed.
"Wow... can't believe that is me yesterday. Wish I could find words to describe the experience, truly amazing," he posted with a photo.
He also enjoyed beautiful views from space that he documented during his time away from Earth. Photos of the Andes Mountains, Great Barrier Reef and even the Lake of the Ozarks flooded his Twitter feed.
When the crew undocked from the International Space Station, Expedition 39 formally began aboard the station under the command of Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the first Japanese commander of the complex. Wakata and his crewmates, NASA Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio and Mikhail Tyurin of Roscosmos, will operate the station as a three-person crew for two weeks until the arrival of three new crew members, U.S. astronaut Steve Swanson and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev, who are scheduled to launch from Kazakhstan March 25.