University of Alabama Alumnus Set to Take Part in SpaceX Flight
Bob Hines, who received his master's in aerospace engineering from the University of Alabama in 2010, will pilot the "SpaceX Crew-4" mission to the International Space Station this week along with three other crewmates.
According to a press release from the University, Hines is the second University graduate to take part in spaceflights.
Hines will monitor vehicle performance and systems on the flight, which is set to launch no earlier than Saturday, April 23 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
If all goes according to plan, Hines will also take part in a science expedition mission on the space station, including some work outside of the station to modify power systems. He is also expected to be included in planned spacewalks.
In a NASA news conference held in March ahead of the space launch, Hines called a trip into space "a boyhood dream" and said he is excited to take part in the mission.
“It’s kind of surreal to be in a position like this. The first thing I want do when I get up there… once that the engine cuts off, I want to unstrap and go look out the window,” Hines said.
Hines, who spent more than two decades in the U.S. Air Force, said his education from Alabama helped make him one of only a dozen candidates selected for advancement from more than 18,000 applicants to NASA's 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class.
“I needed a program that was flexible enough to handle the military lifestyle and to go with me wherever I moved,” Hines said in a 2017 interview. “The distance learning at UA was the best fit for me, and the reputation of the engineering program there really appealed to me. Several test pilots recommended it to me. My time at Alabama was really important in laying down the foundation of what I needed as a test pilot and my astronaut career here as well.”