Missouri native and University of Illinois graduate Mike Hopkins was a member of the crew that landed safely after spending nearly six months on the International Space Station.
Hopkins and two Russian astronauts landed late Monday in Kazakhstan. They spent 166 days in orbit on the space station.
The Russian Soyuz TMA-10M capsule descended slowly by parachute. Rescue crews said the astronauts were fine and in good spirits.
Heavy snowfalls and strong winds at the landing site had prompted Russian space officials to consider putting off the landing by a day, but they eventually decided to proceed with the original plan.
According to Hopkins’ bio on NASA’s website, he was born in Lebanon, Mo. and grew up on a farm outside Richland.
He graduated with an Aerospace Engineering degree from the University of Illinois in 1991. He was also a captain of the Illinois football team.
In late November, Hopkins took photos of St. Louis from the International Space Station: