Astronaut Mike Hopkins, a former Illinois defensive back participating in his first space mission, reached the International Space Station after midnight Thursday morning.
Hopkins was part of a three-man crew that rode a Soyuz rocket that lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:58 p.m. ET Wednesday. The astronauts will live aboard the orbiting laboratory until March 2014.
Hopkins played at Illinois from 1988-91. He received the Illini's special teams player of the year award in 1989.