Former Illinois DB on 1st NASA Mission
Since leaving Illinois, former Illini defensive back Mike Hopkins has soared to greater heights than he ever achieved as a football player.
That’s not to say that Hopkins didn’t cut it as a player (he was Illinois’ special teams player of the year in 1989). Rather, the 44-year-old now has a job that puts him above everyone: NASA astronaut.
A colonel in the U.S. Air Force, Hopkins is currently participating in his first space mission, have reached the International Space Station after midnight on Thursday morning. He is part of a three-man crew - along with two Russian cosmonauts - that will conduct science experiments and maintenance between now and March 2014.
We wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Hopkins brought an Illinois flag with him to space and waved it for the cameras to see at some point during his mission.