KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — From farmland to microgravity, Col. Michael Hopkins has been preparing for years for this Crew-1 mission to space.

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Hopkins — along with Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, and Soichi Noguchi from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency — will kick off the first operational flight on SpaceX's Crew Dragon on Saturday from the Kennedy Space Center.

The former U.S. Air Force flight test engineer will command the second astronaut mission on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.

“Something like this is every tester's dream,” Hopkins told Spectrum News. “It is the opportunity to do something new on a new vehicle.”

Hopkins grew up less than an hour drive from Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.

“The farm I grew up, we were actually a hog-and-cattle farm, so the crops we grew were more along the lines of alfalfa and hay and things of that nature,” Hopkins explained.

That farming may help up at the International Space Station, where he’ll be growing food to eat.

This will be his second long duration stay at the ISS. In 2013, he spent 166 days in space.

Hopkins said it was a challenge to be away from his wife and two boys for half a year.

“I had the opportunity to call everyday while I'm there. I have an opportunity once a week to have a video teleconference with them,” he said. “And so that's special, it still helps you feel connected to their lives and what's happening down on Earth."

He plans to do more video teleconferencing this time. He’s used to it since the pandemic has changed how he prepared for this NASA mission.

“My wife, you know because of this pandemic, she's going to have to go into quarantine a little bit earlier than she normally would have to, because obviously we want to protect the folks up on station as well as us,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins says he’s not only looking forward to conducting critical research at the ISS, he’s also hoping to bring some excitement back to the Space Coast.

“I had the opportunity to observe and be there in Florida at the Cape for a couple of a shuttle launches and I got to tell you it was an amazing experience, there was an electricity in the air, you could just feel it around you and so I feel like bringing that back is a good thing,” he said.

Hopkins was selected as an astronaut in 2009.

His first mission in 2013 was on a Soyuz rocket.

Once at the ISS, Hopkins is expected to be sworn into the Space Force. He requested the transfer after the branch was established.