SpaceX's second crew of astronauts launched on Sunday night, and two of the astronauts played college football. As mentioned by the Associated Press, crew commander Mike Hopkins, 51, and Navy Cmdr. Victor Glover, 44 spent their falls on the football field before becoming astronauts. The two along with Shannon Walker, 55, and Soichi Noguchi, 55, traveled to the International Space Station for a five-to-six-month stay.
Hopkins played college football for the University of Illinois. He joined the team in 1987 as a walk-on defensive back. Hopkins went on to have a successful career with the Fighting Illini, earning first-team Academic All-America honors and being named to the Academic All-Big Ten team three times. He was also a team captain and helped the team win the Big Ten title in 1990. He graduated from Illinois in 1991 and got his Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from Stanford University in 1992.
"The workout regimen and really, my whole experience there at Illinois helped me get through the time in the microgravity environment," Hopkins said to Illinois graduating class in 2014. "I know how to work out. I know how to push myself from those days on the football field. That translated directly into my time on the station."
Glover played football and wrestled at California Polytechnic State University. Like Hopkins, Glover was a walk-on, and his athletic career led to him getting into a career in the military. "That’s what I think is really neat is that very different beginning leading to a very similar path- -not just that we both would go from high school into college and study something technical; we both were Division 1 athletes," Glover said to Visit Houston last year when talking about his and Hopkins' career paths. "My engineering degree was important, but it was really sports, especially wrestling. I went to CalPoly on a wrestling scholarship and Hopper went to Illinois on a football scholarship."
Glover is making history as he will be the first Black astronaut to move into a space station for a long stay. The four astronauts will be joining two Russians and one American who flew to the space station last month from Kazakhstan. SpaceX founder Elon Musk had to watch the launch from afar due to him contacting the coronavirus.