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Stripes to Stars: Former KAFB Airman returns as NASA astronaut

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Karissa Dick
  • 377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


U.S. Space Force Col. Michael Hopkins, NASA astronaut, visited Team Kirtland members at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Jan. 19, 2022.

During his visit, Hopkins toured various base facilities, met base leadership, spoke to Airmen and their families about his time on the International Space Station and attended a video call with students from Van Buren Middle School.  

Hopkins was asked many different questions during his presentations. The middle school students and Team Kirtland children were curious about personal hygiene and eating cereal in space, while the adult’s had more technical questions such as how to become an astronaut and what experiments the astronauts performed.  

U.S. Air Force Col. Jason Vattioni, 377th Air Base Wing and installation commander, spoke about Hopkins special visit.

“We are fortunate to have Colonel Hopkins visit Team Kirtland,” said Vattioni. “The presentations about his experiences, including his time spent on the International Space Station, are truly inspiring to all of us. His accomplishments and graciousness are indelible influences on our next generations of space professionals.”

Hopkins most recently served as commander on the Crew-1 SpaceX Crew Dragon and completed his second long-duration mission aboard the International Space Station as a flight engineer. During his second space mission, Hopkins participated in five spacewalks and spent a total of 168 days in space.

“It was a great mission, a great crew, and everything went very very well,” said Hopkins. “We were very happy with the vehicle itself and were able to get into a rhythm with Crew Dragon launching people into space.”

Hopkins was selected to become an astronaut in 2009, but originally began his career in 1992 when he commissioned in the U.S. Air Force. After commissioning, Hopkins was assigned to Kirtland Air Force Base in 1993 where he worked on advanced space system technologies.

 “My time here at Kirtland and my time here at the lab, helped shape me, helped shape my career, and helped me during my time up in space,” said Hopkins.  “Actually, every position that I’ve had in the Air Force has been influential in getting me to NASA, getting me up to space, and getting me through those missions in space.”