Air Force Col. Michael “Hopper” Hopkins will be in an appropriate location later this month when he transfers over to the recently created U.S. Space Force.
He’ll be in space.
A veteran NASA astronaut who has already logged more than 166 days in space, Col. Hopkins will switch his name tag from “Air Force” to “Space Force” once he is aboard the International Space Station, officials with U.S. Space Force confirmed.
While about 2,500 active-duty service members are now part of the U.S. Space Force — including Gen. John Raymond, chief of Space Operations — Col. Hopkins will be the first actual astronaut to join the ranks.
“Gen. Raymond is working with (NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine) to leverage this unique venue for the ceremony as a way to spotlight the decades-long partnership between (the Department of Defense) and NASA,” a Space Force official confirmed.
For more than 60 years, the military services have helped fill the ranks of NASA’s astronaut corps, officials said.
“Space Force — as the newest military service — is looking forward to contributing to this legacy,” an official said.
Col. Hopkins will be commander for the upcoming SpaceX Crew-1 mission, the first crew rotation mission to the space station under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The mission is expected to launch Nov. 14 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
He was previously a member of the Expedition 37/38 crew and launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in September 2013. During his stay aboard the space station, Col. Hopkins conducted two spacewalks lasting more than 12 hours to change out a degraded pump module, according to his NASA biography.
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