A NASA astronaut who graduated from the University of Illinois spoke to U of I students from orbit. IPR's Sean Powers reports:
Students wait in a packed lecture hall on the University of Illinois' Urbana campus as NASA tries to connect one of its own, Mike Hopkins, through a video feed.
OPERATOR: "University of Illinois, this is mission control Houston, please call station for a voice check"
Hopkins is docked at the International Space Station, up to 286 miles above the earth's surface.
HOPKINS: "University of Illinois, fighting Illini, I hear you loud and clear, and I'm ready to answer some questions."
He spends about 15 minutes talking to students and taking questions. He says he wants the space program to expand its reach.
HOPKINS: "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."
U of I aerospace engineering student Robert Kaminski went to see Hopkins speak, and he also wants to go up into space.
KAMINISKI: "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's a journey that will last until next March for Mike Hopkins.
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