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Lebanon native Michael Hopkins to command the SpaceX Crew Dragon, set for launch Sunday

Astronaut Soichi Noguchi, of Japan, from left, NASA Astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover...
Astronaut Soichi Noguchi, of Japan, from left, NASA Astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins walk after arriving at Kennedy Space Center, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The four astronauts will fly on the SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station scheduled for launch on Nov. 14, 2020 (AP Photo/Terry Renna)(Terry Renna | AP)
Published: Nov. 15, 2020 at 12:33 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2020 at 1:47 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Michael Hopkins, a NASA astronaut and Lebanon, Missouri native, is set for a special mission.

Hopkins is a mission commander of SpaceX Crew Dragon, which was set to launch into space Sunday evening. He will serve as a flight engineer aboard the International Space Station.

“When I was growing up at the Lake there, going to the School of the Osage, I never would have thought that someday I was going to be sitting here getting ready to launch to the International Space Station on a brand new vehicle,” Hopkins told KY3 on Monday.

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The mission is part of a partnership with NASA, and SpaceX, a private company owned by Elon Musk. They had their first successful manned launch earlier this year.

For NASA, it marks the long-awaited start of regular crew rotations at the International Space Station, with private companies providing the lifts. There will be double the number of astronauts as the test flight earlier this year, and their mission will last a full six months.

“I think it’s part of this opening the door, particularly right now of low Earth Orbit, to more and more space flight,” Hopkins said.

The launch is scheduled for 6:27 p.m. CT at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Hopkins shared about his excitement for the launch Sunday morning on Twitter.

The initial launch date had been rescheduled twice. Initially set for Halloween, crews pushed the date back to Saturday, November 14 after evaluating some issues with engines used on the Falcon 9 series rockets. Weather conditions then postponed the SpaceX launch to Sunday, November 15.

Joining Hopkins for the mission are two other NASA astronauts (Navy Cmdr. Victor Glover and Shannon Walker), in addition to the Japanese Space Agency’s Soichi Noguchi.

According to NASA, Hopkins and his crewmates worked closely with SpaceX to develop new spacecraft systems, which will provide roundtrip crew transportation services to the International Space Station and return the ability to launch humans into space from United States soil.

Hopkins was selected by NASA as an astronaut in 2009. He was raised near Richland, Missouri and is a graduate of School of the Osage. Hopkins holds a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois and a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering from Stanford University.

Check back later Sunday as KY3 plans a live stream of the launch.

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