Astronaut cheering Illini from outer space!

By Anna Carrera

Published 09/25 2013 04:42PM

Updated 10/08 2013 11:08AM

Latest: 6:18 pm, 10/4/13, Friday
OUTER SPACE -- A former Illini football player says he's keeping an eye on the team, from space! Mike Hopkins made it to the International Space Station last week. He'll be there for the next six months teaching people to "Train Like an Astronaut."
Latest: 4:33 pm, 9/26/13, Thursday
URBANA -- A UI grad is getting settled in outer space. It's a full house now on the International Space Station.

Mike Hopkins and two others made the trip there Wednesday. Now, they're spending time getting used to their new home and sleeping schedule.

Hopkins will be teaching people to "Train Like an Astronaut" for the next six months while he's in orbit.

Update: 10:12 pm, 9/25/13, Wednesday
URBANA -- A UI alum blasted off Wednesday from Kazakhstan. Michael Hopkins graduated with an aeronautical engineering major more than 20-years ago.

Wednesday, he launched his dream of doing research in outer space. Hopkins and two others docked with the International Space Station a short time ago. They'll spend the next six months in outer space.

There, Hopkins will focus on fitness in zero-gravity and encourage others to do the same. He already launched a program called "Train Like and Astronaut."

His former teacher says staying fit is right up his alley. To follow along with his workouts and interact with him while he's in orbit, click here.

Original: 4:46 pm, 9/25/13, Wednesday
URBANA -- A University of Illinois grad is reaching new heights. He's traveling about 17,000 miles an hour into outer space for the first time. WCIA-3's Anna Carrera has his story.

His shuttle took off just before 4 pm Wednesday afternoon. A few hours later, Mike Hopkins and two others will join another three-person crew on the International Space Station.

People who knew Hopkins say it's a feat he's been preparing for since long before he started at UI.

Before Hopkins punched his ticket to work for NASA, he spent a lot of time on the UI campus. 

"He's one of our best undergrad students we've had," said John Prussing.  

Prussing taught America's latest space-bound astronaut. He says Hopkins should have no problem with his upcoming experiments.

"Mike himself is very much into physical fitness," said Prussing. "Staying fit in zero-gravity situations is a challenge, and I'm sure he'll find out a lot of things."

Mike already launched a program called "Train Like an Astronaut." He's encouraging people to learn to stay fit like he does, even though he has a few different challenges than we do.

"When we're in space, we're floating around," said Hopkins. "And so, it's hard to stay down on the track."

Hopkins' passion for fitness should come as no surprise. He spent his fair share of time in a weight room at University of Illinois.

"Mike was one of our defensive backs," said Illini football coach Greg Colby. "He was a walk-on early in his career and earned a scholarship later on."

He was one of the top special-teams players and eventually a team captain. The Fighting Illini even won the Citrus Bowl while Hopkins was on the roster.

"He's one of those guys that love the game, played it with a great passion," said Colby. "But he knew he wasn't going to play beyond college. He knew what his goals were."

Now Hopkins can check another goal off his list. And, when it comes to any others he may have, the universe is the limit.

Mike's encouraging people to follow along with his workouts and interact with him while he's in orbit.

To Train Like an Astronaut, click here.

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