Illinois Aerospace Students to Chat Live with International Space Station

10/21/2013 7:00:00 AM

The University of Illinois Department of Aerospace Engineering presents “A Journey to Space” which features a unique opportunity to hear, in person, from one former astronaut and to video chat live with a current resident of the International Space Station. The event will be Tuesday, Oct. 29 from 11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in the National Center for Supercomputing (NCSA) Auditorium (room 1122), 1205 W. Clark St., Urbana. Editor's note: See the entire Mike Hopkins interview on YouTube.

Mike Hopkins is currently aboard the International Space Station
Mike Hopkins is currently aboard the International Space Station
The department has invited Steve Nagel, a 1968 Illinois aerospace engineering graduate, to campus, to share his journey as an astronaut, which included 723 hours of space flight aboard four shuttle missions. The talk is in conjunction with a live video chat with another Illinois AE alum, Mike Hopkins (1991), who is one month into a six-month stay aboard the International Space Station.

Those unable to attend, can watch the Hopkins interview at 12:00 pm CT on NASA TV or at

A native of Canton, Ill., Nagel was commissioned in 1969 through the University of Illinois Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) and served the NASA astronaut program from 1979-2011. He has unique distinction of participating in four space flights aboard four different space shuttles – as mission specialist for STS-51G aboard Discovery in 1985; as pilot for STS-61A aboard Challenger also in 1985; as commander of STS-37 aboard Atlantis in 1991; and as commander of STS-55 aboard Columbia in 1993. He served many other support roles for the shuttles’ early flights and, upon retirement from the Air Force in 1995, was deputy director for operations development for the Safety Reliability and Quality Assurance Office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. He has been an instructor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of Missouri since 2011.

Hopkins is the first for NASA’s 2009 astronaut class to journey to space, having launched on Sept. 25 aboard a Soyuz spacecraft in Kazakhstan. A native of Lebanon, Mo., Hopkins was captain for the Illini football team in 1991 while completing a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force in 1992. Hopkins was assigned to the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office at the Pentagon in 2005 and selected as a special assistant to the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2008. Aboard Expedition 37/38, Hopkins is also sharing his fitness activities through social media as part of the NASA’s “Train Like an Astronaut” program --