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TODAY: Ozarks Native Headed to International Space Station

OSAGE BEACH, Mo. -- School of the Osage is celebrating the launch of NASA's Epedition 37 to the International Space Station today at 3:58 p.m.
OSAGE BEACH, Mo. -- School of the Osage is celebrating the launch of NASA's Epedition 37 to the International Space Station today at 3:58 p.m.

That's when Col. Mike Hopkins, a Missouri native and alumnus at the School of the Osage, will blast off from the Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. 

Two weeks ago, he talked live, via satellite from Russia, with Shannon Miller and Rob Evans on KOLR10 News Daybreak (video above).

Today, the school will host astronaut Scott Tingle as it watches Hopkins leave for the mission.

Transcript from that interview:

Mike:  "Good morning Shannon and Rob.  It's great to talk with you and great to talk to Springfield."

Shannon:  "Mike, we understand you're from the area.  Tell us a little bit about your history here in the Ozarks."

Mike: "I grew up on a small farm outside of Richland.  We raised cattle and hogs. I started off going to school at Richland, and about junior high, I started attending School of the Osage.  I was just another student at School of the Osage and (was) just another student there at School of the Osage.  Had an opportunity to play for some of the sports teams, and from there, went on to the University of Illinois."

Rob: "You played football there, was a standout player there.  Take me back, though, to your junior year in high school at School of the Osage.  I understand that's when you wanted to be an astronaut. I'm talking to that kid right now and I'm saying 'Hey Mike, just so you know, in 25 years, you're going to be in outer space.'  Is that possible?"
Mike: "It's certainly hard to believe for that kid back in 1986.  It was - I'm watching the shuttle as it launches, 4,5, 6 times a year, going up into space.  Watching the astronauts do their jobs on the space shuttle and outside of the space shuttle. And man, that just looked exciting, and boy, I sure would like to do that.  And it's amazing that 25 years later, I get that opportunity."

Shannon:  "And September 25 is when you'll be taking off with two other Russian astronauts.  Talk a little bit about the training.  This is the time when you have to get focused about what you'll be doing."
Mike:  "That's absolutely correct.  It's almost like you're going into a football game.  You've got to get ready to play.  And so in this case, we head down to the launch site in Kazakhstan.  We've got about two weeks down there with preparation.  We'll have an opportunity, for the first time, to see the actual vehicle that we'll be sitting in when we launch into space.  Kind of check it out, make sure it's operating okay.  Make sure our space suits are operating okay.  And then we kind of go through some of the last minute looks at the orbital parameters that once we launch into space, where and when we'll be doing different burns on the satellite as we rendezvous with the station itself."

Rob: "What are you going to do at the International Space Station and how long are you going to be there?"
Mike:  "So we'll be there for 6 months, which is very exciting.  What we're going to do, primarily, is a lot of science.  There's over 200 experiments that are going to be performed on the International Space Station while we're there.  They range from human research to biology to physics to engineering demonstrations.  So that's certainly going to be a lot of fun to do.  We also have to maintain that station, though.
So, there's some routine maintenance to do.  Things break, just like anybody's house.  So we have to be ready and prepared to fix those when that happens."

Shannon:  "Mike you'll be away from your family for about 6 months. Is there anyway you can contact them - does Skype works from space?"
Mike: "Well, we don't have Skype.  But NASA and the international partners do a fantastic job of providing opportunities for us to keep in touch with our families.  In fact, once a week, I'll have the opportunity to have a  video tele-conference with them.  And we have an IP phone, so I'm able to call them daily, if I want to.  In fact, I could call your cell phone if I needed to or wanted to, from there."

From NASA:  More about Mike and his mission-

Hopkins and his crewmates, Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy of the Russian Federal Space Agency, will launch on September 25th from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard their Soyuz TMA-10M spacecraft.
Hopkins is a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force and the first member of the 2009 NASA Astronaut Class to travel to space.
Hopkins is a native of Richland, Missouri. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois and graduate degree from Stanford University.
Hopkins was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force in January 1992. In April 1993, he was assigned to Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he worked on advanced space system technologies. In 1996, he attended the flight test engineering course at the USAF Test Pilot School, Edwards Air Force Base, California. Following graduation in 1997, he worked at the 418 Flight Test Squadron, testing C-17 and C-130 aircraft. In 1999, he moved to Cold Lake, Alberta, as an exchange officer with the Canadian Flight Test Center. In 2002, Hopkins was selected as an Olmsted Scholar by the George and Carol Olmsted Foundation. Following 6 months of language training at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, he moved to Parma, Italy, in 2003, where he studied political science at the Università degli Studi di Parma. In 2005, Hopkins was assigned to the USAF Rapid Capabilities Office at the Pentagon, where he served as a project engineer and program manager. In 2008, Hopkins was selected as a special assistant to the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where he worked until he commenced astronaut training.

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