Astronaut Friday: Mike Hopkins

There are many reasons to celebrate the end of the week, like an astronaut Friday post! Today’s featured astronaut is Mike Hopkins, a current NASA astronaut with an experience-filled past and wide-open future. Read on to see some of the cool things Mike has done, and will do, for NASA.

1) He’s been selected for a commercial crew assignment

On Aug. 3, 2018, NASA announced the U.S. astronauts that would be the first to fly aboard commercial spacecraft designed and developed in the U.S.A. as a part of the Commercial Crew Program, a partnership between NASA and commercial entities to develop American-made space transportation systems that will fly missions to and from the International Space Station (ISS). The program will return astronauts to American soil for the first time in 7 years.

Hopkins was among nine astronauts selected for the first test flights and missions of the Commercial Crew Program. He has been assigned to the Crew-1 mission which is, “the first post-certification flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, and the second crewed flight for that vehicle.”

Currently, Hopkins and his crew mates are working alongside SpaceX to further develop the spacecraft systems of the Crew Dragon, which will carry them on a historic trip to the ISS. The spaceflight capabilities provided by SpaceX and Boeing will allow NASA to keep up to 7 astronauts on station, which will maximize scientific research efforts aboard the ISS, aiding in future missions to the ISS and beyond.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon will blastoff from Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. What a time to be an astronaut!

2) He’s flown to the ISS before with Expedition 37/38

This isn’t Hopkins’ first rodeo. He has already flown to the ISS with Expedition 37/38, spending a total of 166 days in space. From September 25, 2013 to March 10, 2014, Hopkins and his crew mates worked aboard the ISS, during which Hopkins and fellow U.S. astronaut Rick Mastracchio conducted two spacewalks totaling 12 hours and 58 minutes.

Expedition 37 focused on research revolving around human health and physiology in space as well as student experiments that were sent up to the ISS. Expedition 38 devoted work efforts to research, “focusing on technology demonstration, cellular and plant biology, human health management for long duration space travel and maturing critical systems that currently support the International Space Station.” Examples include understanding how plants grow in microgravity and how technology can improve how we understand liquid movement in space, as well as how long duration spaceflight affects the human body. These type of experiments play a crucial role in planning for future deep space travel.

His expedition culminated in a journey of over 70 million miles and a completion of 2,656 orbits of the Earth.

3) He used his time in space to energize others to be more active with NASA’s “Train Like an Astronaut” series

Studying and understanding the impacts of long duration spaceflight on the body was an important research focus for Hopkins’ expedition. While Hopkins was expected to workout in space for his own well-being and for that of the mission, he partnered with NASA’s “Train Like an Astronaut” series to motivate people to workout and stay fit on the ground. He took people on a journey, inspiring viewers as he prepared and trained for his first spaceflight and continued to connect with his audience once he finally arrived aboard the ISS, with video updates about his exercise routines published for the world to see.

During the expedition, astronauts exercised for roughly 2 hours aboard the ISS, using an exercise bike, treadmill and, “a one-of-a-kind resistive exercise device.” The workouts were necessary to maintain health and mitigate the impacts of microgravity on the body, but they were also a connection to the world below for Hopkins. “Just knowing that there is always someone else out there that is striving to get better and pushing themselves forces me to keep pushing as well,” Hopkins claimed.

Growing up, Hopkins was always active. He lived on a farm and played sports. To this day, he takes a large interest in sports and outdoor activities, like skiing, backpacking, running and CrossFit. Of working out, Hopkins has said, “Staying fit and being physically active are important parts of my life,” and adds that the “Train Like an Astronaut” series is a way for him to motivate adults and young people to exercise and stay in shape.

To Hopkins, it was more than a series, it was about opening up a dialogue, and creating a community, to support healthy living whether you’re on orbit or on Earth. Watch what goes into an astronaut’s training with Mike Hopkins in this “Train Like an Astronaut” clip, and get motivated to meet your own fitness goals by doing your own astronaut training!