The countdown is approaching for NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins of southern Missouri’s Richland. In T minus five days, Hopkins and three others are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station.

Hopkins is leading the four-person crew on a mission that will make space their home for about the next six months. They arrived Sunday to the Kennedy Space Center.

PHOTO DATE: 12-29-16
LOCATION: Bldg. 8, Room 183 – Photo Studio
SUBJECT: Official astronaut portrait of Mike Hopkins in an EMU suit.
PHOTOGRAPHER: BILL STAFFORD

“It’s really been an incredible effort by an incredible group of people. For the crew – we’re ready,” said Hopkins.

He will be joined by NASA astronauts Shannon Walker and Victor Glover, as well as Soichi Noguchi from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The crew is blasting off in the same vehicle that launched into space over the summer with St. Louis County native Bob Behnken on board.

The space mission will mark the second one for Hopkins. He has logged 166 days in space and conducted two spacewalks totaling 12 hours and 58 minutes.

“I’m excited to float again. There’s nothing like that,” he told Missourinet during an interview in September. “It’s an experience that is hard to describe and that’s actually one of my goals when I go up this time is to figure out how to describe – how to put it into words to people down on Earth.”

Hopkins has also served his country in the U.S. Air Force and is currently a colonel in the newly-launched U.S. Space Force – a space warfare branch of America’s military.

Saturday’s liftoff is scheduled for 6:49 p.m. CST at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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(AUDIO) Missouri native prepares to blast off to space
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