UI Grad Chats with Aerospace Students from NASA Space Station


University of Illinois (UI) students have a sweet memory to add to their collection. One of their alumni, Mike Hopkins interacted with Illini aerospace engineering students via NASA video hook-up from the International Space Station above Houston.

At the University of Illinois National Center for Supercomputing Applications, the students spoke and interviewed the 1991 engineering graduate

"University of Illinois, Fighting Illini, I hear you loud and clear, and I'm ready to answer some questions," Hopkins said. Hopkins stood in front of an Illini flag in the space station on Tuesday, My San Antanio reports.

Hopkins, who was also co-captain of the Illini football team, just completed first six months aboard the space station.

Students sent their questions ahead of the meet. Several questions including his activities at the space station, how he feels living in space and the future of space travel were asked.

Hopkins had exactly 10 minutes to talk and answer those questions.

Hopkins said that his favourite pass time in the space is floating.

"The station is even more amazing than I ever thought it was going to be."It doesn't get old, even just in the middle of the work day as you go floating around from one module to another. It's just fun," Hopkins said.

"In some sense I feel like it's alive. There's just this constant noise," Hopkins said. "Even with all the simulators we have on the ground that look exactly like this, until you're up here and you feel that and you hear it and you sense it, that's probably something that you'll never get unless you're here," New Gazette reports.

Sophomore Nick Fulton, who aspires to become an astronaut found Hopkins' talk insightful.

"It was interesting to see his viewpoint and to talk to him while he was in space," Fulton said. 

"I thought it was really insightful. He went pretty in-depth for the little amount of time that they had," Fulton told News-Gazette. "It was interesting to see his viewpoint and to talk to him while he was in space."

Steve Nagel, a retired astronaut who spoke to students before and after the NASA chat, praised Hopkins for successfully completing UI's engineering program with good grades and ROTC program, while playing a varsity sport.

"He's an incredible guy," Nagel, a 1968 UI graduate told News Gazette.

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